28 February 2010

Delco Feb AKC

Well we got some more snow last week. I'm beginning to wish I did live farther south, despite my severe aversion to heat...

This weekend we went to an AKC trial. Our first since last October. They were using 24" weave bases, which is great because Kiba's never seen them and they're using them at AKC Nationals next month. Saturday Kiba ran very well, got her first double-Q of 2010. She's running at 16", and DAMN she's fast! She didn't double again today due a brain fart when I tried to call her through something and she just sort of didn't want to slow down. But she was 3/4 and looked like she felt really good. Hit all contacts, no bars, looked great in the weaves. I was a little concerned since she has an interesting and fast way of weaving, but she tucked right in and loved them.

Drifter started the weekend Saturday by knocking TWO bars in JWW. He is running at 26", which for some reason has always been hard for us in AKC, but I really want the practice for IFCS. I am running 20" at AKC Nationals but it is easier to drop the heights last minute for that than it is to raise them up again if I've done 20" for too long, and there's only 6 weeks between AKC Nationals and IFCS. So 26" it is. Luckily after the 2 bars in JWW he nailed every other course. Sunday's Standard he was very slow on the table so ended up 5th place, but I think he won the other 2 classes - he also finished the weekend 3/4. I didn't even have to walk him off for naughty stays, as he stayed after a very short scooty scooch each time. His stay "rules" include him not moving "too far" from where I left him, or alternately he can't move "too close" to the first jump. He stayed within his loosely defined limits all weekend, so i was pleased with him.

Seri was wild, basically. No Q's at all. She is in Exc A, and her very first course she hit bars and even went off course, the next 3 runs she handled pretty well, hit all her contacts, stayed, just was hitting bars. Standard this morning (Sun) she actually did really well until the end, where I cued a front cross early but she didn't decelerate early, and then hit the bar when she realized she needed to slow down more. Oh well. She needs MILEAGE more than anything. She doesn't hit many bars in training, so I don't doubt she will improve. She was very LOUD, for sure!

I did not get video, sorry. Wasn't sure who was going to be there, then just didn't see friends nearby when I was getting ready so didn't bother with it.

Next weekend we're off, training again.

19 February 2010

What they call a "shameless plug"

International Course Workshop
with 2010 IFCS Team USA Member Rosanne DeMascio
Saturday April 17th in Pittstown NJ
9am to 4pm
Limited to 7 working slots

This workshop is designed to focus on international courses of the type that will be seen at IFCS, FCI, or AKC Tryouts. Handlers must be well-versed in all handling maneuvers at a Masters level. The main focus will be running full International courses. Emphasis will be placed on finding the fastest line through a sequence. Courses will include 180's, serpentines, pull-through's, 270's, long distances, short distances (including the European "combo" jumps), passing tunnel entrances, etc. All handling "systems" are welcome, consistency of cues and encouraging speed and understanding on the dog's part will be the main focus. This workshop is not designed to teach the basics of handling these maneuvers, but rather how to handle them at speed within a course.

Workshop will run from 9am to 4pm, with a brief break for lunch unless we are running behind. Format will be:
walk the course, everyone will run the course for time/faults, we will work through issues and talk about where the handler could tighten up/speed the dog up, then run the course again for time/faults.
Limited to 7 working slots. The only auditors allowed are those who carpool with working handlers due to limited parking.
Bring your own food, water. Cost $140 per working slot. $50 to audit.

Please email Rosanne rdrift@gmail.com for additional information. This will make a great tune-up before Tryouts, or just a great challenge for an experienced handler!

13 February 2010

Thanks UPS for being a service FAIL.

I ordered 2 packages last weekend. They both shipped Monday. They both arrived at the delivery facility Wed morning. No, I did not expect them to be delivered Wed during the 23" of snow falling. However, they also did not arrive Thursday. And they also did not arrive Friday. I tracked them and Wednesday they scanned them as "Adverse Weather Conditions" Ok, makes sense. Thurs and Friday they scanned the 2 packages as "Emergency Conditions beyond UPS Control". Excuse me? I call Bullshit. my road's been plowed for 2 days now. Get your residential customers taken care of. The worst part is, because they are basically run by a whiney Union, they probably won't work today to make up for not working Wed. So I won't get the damn packages till Monday. Optimistically. Today most of our FedEx Ground drivers who usually only work Mon-Fri are out delivering. Why? Because they are independent contractors who are paid to deliver, not to drive. So if their job is to deliver the package, not drive around and FAIL all day and get paid the same. Way to go, UPS. I'm not saying there aren't any FedEx drivers who failed this week, but there shouldn't have been many.

Ridiculous.

Also our trial got cancelled. First I heard that the site owner said Thurs that it should be cleared no problem. Then Friday they called the club and said the plow truck kept breaking down (it's plowed by site owner's son) and it wasn't going to be clear. But then the club email says they did call in heavy equipment and just couldn't clear it; too much snow. So I don't know WHAT the whole story is, but I have a sneaking suspicion that site owner did not try to plow till Friday morning. Probably the son was out using his plow to make money Thursday by plowing private driveways. Very frustrating. I know many people just shrug and sigh and say "oh well, it's winter, what do you expect?" but I do NOT have extra money to throw away on things like this. If it is true that the site owner did not notify the club till mid-day Friday (the snow stopped Wed evening) then the site owner does not deserve to get paid for either plowing or site rental. I am a hard-ass about things like this. If you are going to make money by running a site to be rented for shows and seminars, you have a very important duty to clear that site of snow in the winter. Yes, this was an extraordinary storm, but the site owner has a duty to let the club know any issues ASAP, not the day before, when several people from farther away had already left!

12 February 2010

So today i was excited because I found out that Wed, when we were closed, actually turned into a paid day off for us. Which means I don't have to go in tomorrow (Sat) morning. Now I'm not excited because Keystone wasn't able to get the parking area plowed for the trial this weekend, and so I'm probably going to lose part of the money (hopefully not ALL, the club isn't usually that stingey) and get nothing. There is 24" of snow on the ground, so I can't train outside. i can't hike. I can't run. BLAH!

One of the things I've been doing is trying to figure out when the hell I am going to need/want a new puppy. After I ended up placing Drake after keeping him for way too long (he got along great and was super sweet, just wasn't *doing* anything), I want to make absolutely sure i have the time and drive to train a puppy right. So that means, basically, that Drifter must be closing in on retirement, or at least past the ultra-competitive stage. Because Kiba is already past the stage where she needs a ton of training - what training she may lack on obstacle independence is easily compensated for by my skill as handler, and there's nothing wrong with that. Drifter doesn't need a ton of training after IFCS in May, because I fully expect lower heights to solve what remains of our bar knocking issues. At 20" and 22" he doesn't hit much. He did great at most events this year at 26" so I'm pleased with how far I got with him, he's a fabulous dog. But after IFCS in May, it's lower heights for the rest of his career. He will be 8 yrs in September, which is before USDAA Nationals. I expect he'll comfortably stay at 20/22" for at least 2 more years. He's pretty sound. Kiba, on the other hand, won't be staying at 22" for many more years. She lacks power and has niggling back pain issues already. I think she can do Perf 16" and AKC (where 16" is full height) for a while, but I actually expect she'll probably retire about the same time as Drifter. Because I have a lot of dogs, and they are all talented, the dogs I have probably won't have extended Performance/Preferred careers. Once they can't jump full height, they will simply retire to stay home. Maybe continue hiking, or do more herding, things like that.

So what i've been trying to figure out is when to breed Seri. I'm pretty sure at this point that I do want to do it, and that's where my pup will come from. Seri isn't a big name dog yet, but she has amazing talent, and the few times she has run a course similarly to Drifter, her time is very competitive to his already. She IS my AKC World Team dog. She is ALSO a bit of a slow maturing dog, mentally, so it may not be next year.

So here's my potential breeding/due in-season dates, and the reasons I'm having trouble:
She was just in season Jan 2010, and she is a clockwork 8-month cycle.

September 2010, obviously is too early. Drifter turns 8, Kiba almost 6, and Seri barely 4.

May 2011, Annoyingly conflicts with Tryouts. I think they let you run anyway. Or used to. She's not qualified yet, but I hope to do so after returning from IFCS. She's still in Exc A though. Drifter will be 8.5, Kiba 6.5, and Seri almost 5.

Jan 2012, This would be great except that breeding Jan means puppies in March, puppies going home early May - meaning she wouldn't be back in tip top shape for Tryouts as pups would barely be going home. Drifter would be 9, kiba 7, Seri 5.5

Sept 2012, This might be the best option IF IF IF Seri isn't on the AKC World Team. Drifter will be turning 10, Kiba will be almost 8, and Seri will have just turned 6. So by the time pup would be ready to compete spring 2014, Drifter would be 11.5 and almost certainly retired, kiba would be 9 and probably also retiring, and Seri would be closing in on 8 herself.

If Seri DOES make the team and will need to run on it Sept 2012-ish, her next heat wouldn't be until May 2013, which is right back conflicting with Tryouts again. If I did breed her then (perhaps after Tryouts - she usually comes in heat around the 5th so wouldn't be ready to breed till 2 weeks later), Pups would be born mid-July, going home mid-September, so again would conflict if she did make the Team. These would be PRIME years for her to make Team.
In May 2013, Drifter will be 10.5, Kiba will be 8.5, and Seri will be almost 7 herself.

That's about it, as I really don't want to breed a bitch for the first time when she's past 7, I think that's pushing it.

This begins to make me wonder if I should think about skipping Tryouts next year and breeding her on that May heat. . .? Or go to Tryouts and if she doesn't make the team (I'm not sure if she'll be quite ready yet anyway), then breed her - I'd have to be READY to have puppies and already have the stud lined up though.

Man, breeding is a pain in the ass! Am I ready for a puppy in a year and half? That is 3 and 1/2 years after I got baby Drake, and 2 years past when I decided I couldn't keep him. Drifter will be almost 9, Kiba 6.5, and Seri 4 going on 5. When pup came out competing in early Winter 2013 Drifter would be 10, Kiba 8, and Seri 6. I guess that's not really bad at all. Next year seems soon though!

10 February 2010

No I did not end up getting up at 2:30 yesterday morning. My alarm went off, I had immediate thoughts of shoveling the new snow today, and i said screw it and went back to sleep.

Today is the first day in the almost 8 years i've worked at FedEx Ground that we actually CLOSED the terminal and do not plan to attempt delivery. Honestly, when a manager called at 2am it didn't look too bad; I could've gotten in to work. Only 3" or so of new snow. But when i woke up again at 6:30, it was between 6 and 8". Getting home would have been difficult. And they are saying that after a brief lull in the storm, we will get 10 more inches AND gusting winds up to 45 or 55mph, so full-blown blizzard conditions through-out the afternoon. No way should our drivers be out in that. So if you're expecting a package today and you live nearby, don't expect anybody to deliver it. I expect that UPS, paragon of workers' unions that they are, will absolutely not be out in this either. Hell, Saturday was so bad the POST OFFICE didn't deliver!!

Anyway, the other research activity I'm currently doing online is the beginnings of a very early search for a stud for Seri dog. She's on a co-own so the difficult part will be a male that her breeder and I both agree on. I am not planning to breed her till 2012-2013, depending on our trial schedule, World Team, etc. (being optimistic here), but absolutely no later than 2013 sometime, as that's the year she'll turn 7 and I imagine I'll be dying for a puppy by then. There are a few health issues in her lines here and there, but I am well aware of them and very open about what's what with people who need to know. But I'm hunting for a stud who isn't a flyball-exclusive dog, who doesn't have close relatives with epilepsy, who is built well and has a great shoulder, is athletic but can think. . . all the magical traits:) And has to be at least 4 years old when I breed to him. No baby breeding, it's a peeve of mine. So I can look now, because the youngest dogs i'll use will be already 2 years old by now. . . Anyhow I enjoy looking around.
ETA: if you have a suggestion for a manly male dog, please email me privately and I'm perfectly willing to discuss. ( rdrift at gmail dot com )

Stuck indoors again today, I will be doing some further scheduling for my UK trip as well.

08 February 2010

Every few weeks or so I decide that I'll begin getting up early for work and working out on my mom's recumbant bike for 20-30 minutes. I absolutely hate exercising with other people around (I am quirky), which is part of the many reasons I prefer hiking and trail running as my main sources of exercise. Last fall I was up to being on the trail a solid 6-8 hours per week. Not always running, but on hilly trails a brisk walk will wind you almost as well, and it work your muscles differently too.

Well it snowed here on Saturday. it snowed 16 freaking inches. And tomorrow night into Wednesday we are due 3 to 7, or maybe 15, more inches of it. I can't remember the last time we had 2 whole feet of snow on the ground here. Maybe the blizzard of '96. Not sure. Either way, I can NOT hike on unplowed backwoods trails right now. Well. Maybe if I had 16" tall waterproof boots. Which I don't. So the dogs are getting timed 20 minutes runs in the backyard (at least the snow makes them work harder - they do look tired every night), and I am getting, well, not much. So tonight I'm setting my alarm for (gak!) 2:30am and going to see if I can force myself out of bed. You would think that someone who gets up at 3am wouldn't have an issue with getting up early - and if you were speaking of "early" as being 5:30, well, you'd be right. But earlier than 3am? VERY difficult for me to manage, but I'll try anyway. Who knows. Maybe it'll work. Good news is my mother moved a TV near the machine so I can watch Adult Swim or something else completely random and entertaining while I ride.

This weekend I booked the hotel room for IFCS, but I haven't really booked anything else yet. I need to work out a solid itinerary, which I keep procrastinating on. I also need to book flight for me and Drifter at the same time so I KNOW I will be on the same plane. I've also heard you can't even bring dog food into the UK, so I found a pet store near Windsor that stocks some good stuff. So if they tell me 3 hours to get Drifter out of Customs I will run over there and pick up some stuff, maybe look at the Castle. Or if they can push him through I will wait and take him with me to run in the Great Park. Looks gorgeous. I also have to pick a hotel for the first 2 nights in England, somewhere near the airport or Windsor. Planning. Ick. I have a love/hate thing with planning. I obsess about it over and over, research online to no end, and then procrastinate about actually doing the thing I'm planning. I have a strange psyche.

Among all this I keep having to remind myself of something else important - AKC Nationals! it's only about 6 weeks or so away now. I am running low heights so will be running my ass off with both dogs and probably still not making all my front crosses. Will be nice to just lay it on the line and not worry about bars with Drifter! He's improved a lot in the last year or two with those bars, but I am honest in knowing that's been our big detractor all along. I have a firm belief if not for those I would have made AKC Team last year. Damn bars! When I looked back at my records, something like 90% of my NQ's were bars, and my Q rate was still over 50% even so. Which means other faults only accounted for 5% of my runs overall. Not too bad!

05 February 2010

updates

The IFCS team is slowly organizing itself. Our team coach is online now, and doing her best to answer questions by personally contacting USDAA, IFCS, Team hotel, etc directly. I have gotten quotes on shipping Drifter directly into London Heathrow - over $2000 for him alone. Continental is still cheaper than British Airways. I called and booked my hotel room at the Team hotel, which is right on a cliff above the bay (or "Severn Estuaries"). Many of us are planning to meet Thursday in Tulsa before AKC Nationals for a quick practice - it's sort of a compromise as most of us will be there anyway, and few people seem willing to fund nationwide travel to a Team specific practice. I haven't decided yet exactly what events I will do in April to prepare; I have been trying hard to keep Drifter on non-grass surfaces to minimize and perhaps eliminate his grass-biting behavior. The competition will be on dirt, indoors, so I would prefer not to have him choking on the start line (as you'll see on our video from CPA. . .)

We are expecting about 12" or so of snow overnight tonight, so we are all settled in. I don't have a personal use indoor for agility anyway, so I don't really mind the snow. I don't jump my dogs on frozen ground anyway so no loss; snow just means that my frozen-mud backyard actually becomes usable for a while.

I had so much running around my head that I wanted to post about, but basically it all just fled, so that's it for today.

Videos from Carolina Piedmont several weeks ago (still processing as of posting at 4:47pm EST)