31 January 2012


Having a good time down in FL. We arrived in the late afternoon on Friday to New Smyrna Beach area, and ran in an AKC trial on Saturday/Sunday. Trig picked up another QQ and a Standard Q on Sunday towards Tryouts. She just needs a few more individual Q's and she'll be all done. Strafe got an Open JWW and an Open Std leg, his first weekend running at "full height" of 26". Then on Monday we went to a seminar and had a great time running some tough courses. I ran Strafe on the majority of them even though they are more than he's really done, and he did great. Even got one right the first time through, which wasn't easy! He did scare us briefly by launching over the aframe with so much speed that he landed right on the ground, on his face, instead of hitting the downramp. He seems fine though. If there is a massage or chiro person at the trial this weekend I'll have him checked but he stretches out pretty well. Today is a day off for us, and then tomorrow we drive up to Jacksonville for 3 days of a 4-day trial before heading back home on Saturday night and Sunday. This morning we took the dogs to a dog park along the beach, called Davis Island Dog Park. here are some pictures from the fun we had.

Triton and Strafe are best friends and it is pretty cute how they go everywhere together.

Strafe playing with a new friend at the beach. 

Trig, Strafe, Triton

23 January 2012

Seri's idea of comfortable sleeping positions is a little unusual.

Seri is on the couch noisily dreaming away, and it reminded me that I haven't posted about her physical issues lately. I have not been restricting her in any way, aside from not doing much agility due to the weather. She did jump grids while I was down in NC, and has been freely running, playing, and walking with the other dogs.

And she is doing fine. Perfectly fine. No pain on manipulation or range of motion in the shoulder, although she is always a little tight at end range these days. I am still set on getting a definitive answer by the trial I entered in March. She is only 5 years old, and if at this age she cannot do agility without being sore, then I will not do it. I am not willing to drug a dog to make her able to run, and I am not willing to sacrifice her ability to stay sound into old age just so I can have fun doing agility with her. That said, if i can strengthen her tot he point of doing it, I will try because she clearly loves it so much. Nothing else makes her scream with joy quite like agility does.

For old times sake, go ahead and turn up the volume on this one;)

It's warmer today, but not warm. And it's damp, chilly, foggy, and rainy. Just ugly weather. However the ice crust dissolved so the dogs ran in the yard - yes RAN not walked. I wanted some easy cardio exercise to get them a bit tired since they've done very little over the past 2 days.

Today I got the license plates for my new car put on, and also got 12" cut off my hair. It's still classifiable as "long" but it's no longer "ridiculously long". No, I did not take a picture. You'll have to wait for agility videos to see it. I figured out that it had actually been over 2 years since I cut it last. Yikes! Clearly I am not one of those people who does pretty nails and goes to the salon and such... fine by me. I get by without weird stares at the mall so I must look "ok" anyhow!

Today and tomorrow I must finish packing for my FL trip, because Wed I'm teaching in NJ and also filming the video bits for my eBook article, then Thursday we leave! My shoulder has been bothering me enough that I'm pretty sure I am going to seek out a good local chiro/massage/PT person when I get home, because I'm absolutely sure I will need one and even though Ria comes here once a month, she's now busy enough that I can't really eat up her time with my human problems instead of allowing someone else's dog to get worked on...

Oh, and I got Strafe's first agility pictures!

22 January 2012

Pretty isn't it? Except it's 2 or 3" of snow with more than a tenth of an inch of pure ice on top. Doesn't sound like a lot .13", but I assure you, when it's frozen solid on top of snow, it's more than enough for dogs to ice skate on top of it! Yesterday the dogs did a fat lot of nothing while we waited out the weather. My workshops got cancelled, which was probably unnecessary for the afternoon hours, however there were an awful lot of accidents on the roads so I don't feel bad about it. Today the dogs are again ice skating; i am letting Strafe out alone because he keeps trying to run a bit on it, and I cannot have that. They aren't breaking through the ice at all. We did a little bit of peanut and core work, then I used a rope leash to make a "jump" in the living room and did some basic lift-over-a-jump-from-a-standstill exercises (like basic Linda M jumpwork, basically). Good exercise for the muscles without a lot of impact ("jump" was only maybe 18" high), enough to make them think and use some muscles a bit at least.

Tomorrow it is going to be 60F and with possible thunderstorms. Just weird, weird weather. I've started going through laundry to pack for the FL trip later this week. Should be fun, although the way my shoulder, neck, and upper back have been bugging me, I am not looking forward to hearing what Ria has to say when I see her next. Ouch!
Stupid tendonitis in my shoulder... it just wreaks havoc on my neck and upper back. Luckily I can run my dogs even when it's bothering me, but driving can hurt after a while. So can being crammed on an airplane. Sigh.

At least tomorrow if we have a gap between "snow melt" and "storm starts", I can take the dogs for a walk at Fair Hill, since they have nice gravel trails that never get muddy.

20 January 2012

OK. Immediate downside to the new, fancy Blogger view is that I don't get to have profile information or links or other widgets on the sidebar. I kind of liked that feature so I'll probably go back. For now, let me say Happy 4th Birthday to Drifter's first and last litter of puppies, and here's the smiling face of one of them, Dare, who lives in Austin TX and made Steeplechase Finals this past year!

Isn't she cute? It is so funny how each of the pups is a combination of both parents - in each one i can see hints of both Drifter and the mother, Singe. Dare's expression is definitely a bit of both!

Here's Drifter, supposedly saying "Happy Birthday" but really he's mega-interested in the YouTube video I was watching of someone playing with a litter of puppies and saying "puppy puppy pup pup" in a high pitched voice and making lots of kissy smoochy noises. He really liked that. I've been hunting down more sheltie pedigrees and breeder info. Knee deep in it right now, got a few possibilities. Hoping to wait till the fall, at least, so not rushing into anything.

And finally, here's Kiba's Perf Grand Prix run from last weekend where she posted the fastest time in the class. Her aframe hit is high but she is definitely in. I am still fighting for that one and she did miss 2 of them last weekend, thankfully one was in gamblers and I made her go back and do it again. I am adding a new verbal that I can say that might remind her of her job better. Her dogwalks, in contrast, have been pretty good lately.

Thanks to Greg Fontaine for the video!

(ETA: I switched back to a simpler Blogger setting and tweaked it a bit. Can't get a picture to look good in the banner so for now we're staying without one)

19 January 2012

I've switched over to Blogger's new Timeline thing since it seems to be working now. Leave a comment if things are too messy to understand and I'll switch it back. There are links along the top allowing you to change how you view it, so you can pick whichever you like.

Post Swim Bliss

And yes, all of my dogs get to wear nice warm sweaters when they come home from swimming. Seriously, they get chilly!

The day looks pretty outside, but it's cold. I am supposed to teach on Saturday but they are predicting a snowy/wintry mix so I'm not sure if they'll hold the seminar or not. We shall see. Then next Mon/Tues I have to film the video tie-in parts for my contribution to the WAO Team eBook for this year. Look forward to it!!

17 January 2012


I spent the last 5 days down in North Carolina. Raleigh is only about a 6-hour drive from me (a little less if i don't stop often). I only took Kiba and Trig on this trip. Strafe isn't old enough for USDAA yet, and I didn't enter Seri because of her weird pelvis/sacrum thing at the end of December. And Drifter isn't going to Denver for nationals so I don't see a reason to travel with him.

My goals for the weekend were to get Kiba a PGP, PSJ, and PVP Q so that she'll be qualified for the Regional in April. And we met that goal easily - she won all 3 with a bunch of great runs. We did have an unfortunate off course in Team Standard but luckily for us, so did pretty much every other PVP Team! My teammate got around and so we stayed in first. It was actually strange running her back at 16" again - we've been practicing at 20" for the most part and sometimes at 22", because I want her to be prepared for Belgium. But I'm not convinced that 22" is the right height for her at USDAA Nationals. I am eagerly awaiting confirmation of the rumors of USDAA adding a middle height of 18/19" for dogs of her size - I would happily run her in Championship if that came about! All of that said, I did run her in some of the Masters Challenge classes at 22", with the expectation that she would knock some bars after running 16" in the morning, and she did, but not that many bars, really, and she got around all 3 of the Challenge classes (they're international-style courses, really) without an off course, just a couple of bars, and on the 3rd try she actually ran clean and beat one of our WAO Teammates for 1st place! I was very happy with that. And the bars she did knock tended to be on straight lines when she opened up and forgot she couldn't jump as flattened out as she can at 16". And the triple surprised her on the first day. it's bigger than the 20" AKC triple, I think.

Another goal with Kiba over the weekend was to try to have the fastest time of all dogs in the class when we had a clean run, and we also met that goal - she had the fastest time of all in Grand Prix, Steeplechase Rounds 1 and 2, Team Jumpers, and Masters Challenge Jumpers on Monday. I wanted to try to have that as a goal so that I'd push her a little more, even though it wasn't a huge trial, and also because at 16" our timing is slightly different and she can run very fast since it's just under her shoulder height.

Trig also ran great for me all weekend, and got 3rd place and a GP Q, picked up a needed Super Q towards her ADCH, and won Steeplechase 26". She also did well in the Masters Challenge classes, and ran clean in one on Sunday. She only had one off course out of all 4 classes, and considering how little time we've spent working on difficult stuff, I was pretty pleased with that. Because Trig is a little bit slower than my other dogs, it is easy for me run and beat her places, and as a bonus, she enjoys being handled that way.

I continued to use some high speed blind crosses. I think it's funny how a lot of people talk about using them, and may even use them in practice, but very few americans have gotten brave enough to use them in jumping sequences at high speeds. i find them very useful, and fun, and so far after about a year of using them with all my dogs, they are still not demonstrating any confusion or going behind me when I don't want them to do so.

Back home today, and planning out the rest of the month. Teaching classes tomorrow, then teaching in NJ on Saturday (weather permitting - we're indoors but will cancel if there's snow that makes driving dangerous). Then next Thursday I leave for a 10-day trip in FL with a friend - 3 border collies and 10 days worth of clothing in a compact wagon! Should be a fun trip, but it's a damn good thing I already bought that rooftop cargo box!

One of the downsides of my car is that even though it is a small car with a 4-cylinder engine, it is only rated to get 30mpg on the highway - well I got 32mpg on the way down to Raleigh, so I'm feeling a little better about that! And I easily went almost 350miles on a single tank of gas, and the tank is 14gallons and I have yet to put more than 11 in when I fill it. Yay for efficiency! (although I'm still jealous of all the cool diesel wagons they have in europe...)

Obligatory picture:

Drifter stayed home with my mother and spend the entire weekend digging every toy, bone, and antler chew out of her toy box. Apparently he was in there with both front feet and his face, digging through happily... what a goof. I know some people's dogs are upset when they begin to retire, but not Drifter. I leave with the other 3 to go swimming and he doesn't even get off the bed. He is perfectly happy to stay home. Sure, he loves agility, but he also loves toys and couches and dog beds and sitting on my mother's lap... He isn't entered in another trial until early March. Kiba now has a break in trialing till mid-February, so i think I'll give her this time as a "no jumping" time, and maybe just rehearse and proof some contacts while I'm home, and let her run feral with my mom while I'm in FL. Then once our PT comes and makes sure she didn't do anything too crazy while I was away, she'll go into hardcore training/conditioning mode for Feb/March to prepare for AKC Nationals, where I hope and expect for her to do very well...

10 January 2012

Foam and more Travel

First, a note. Yes, I am probably addicted to technology. No, I won't be quitting Facebook or Blogger anytime soon. It really doesn't bother me that I spend 20min or so a day checking in to see what my friends and random acquaintances are doing. And it's very cool to be able to see what my friends around the country and the world are up to. 

A few days ago, I saw a sale was on at Kohl's, and because I wanted to get some memory foam mats for my x-pen and crates, I bought a memory foam mattress topper, and they were Buy 1 Get 1 Free, so I got 2 for the price of one. Then got home and proceeded to cut both of them into various pieces of perfect sizes for my crates in the car, my x-pen, and used the leftovers to top my dog beds at home. Memory foam is supposed to help relieve pressure points. All i can say is, since I put this piece on top of this dog bed and covered it in a $5 (on sale) blanket, Drifter's been spending an awful lot of time there! My dogs are so spoiled....

After today, my winter of fairly little travel is over. I have to pack tomorrow, teach classes, then Thurs morning I'm off to North Carolina to train and visit with a friend, run some USDAA, and then come home Monday night. I originally entered this trial because it is very close to my friend's house and I don't have any Q's towards USDAA Nationals 2012, but more and more I'm convinced I won't be going to Denver. I now know I am going to Belgium (not cheap, even with sponsor help), and I really want to go to Sweden for the EO (yes it's also outside but it's only 2 days, and it's in SWEDEN!) so I think when it comes to it, USDAA is the event I am willing to skip this year. 

Once I'm home from NC, I've got one weekend "home" (I'm actually teaching that Saturday in NJ), then I'm off to FL for a 10-day trip, 2 trials and actually attending a seminar in between (rare for me!), I'm hoping they will let me work Strafe. . . I am only taking Strafe and Trig, will be a fun trip! Then I get home and have a various mixed schedule of teaching/trialing until AKC Nationals, then teaching followed by attending another seminar, World Team Tryouts with Trig, WAO with Kiba, etc etc. Basically the slide back into being busy has begun. I do enjoy being a homebody while it lasts. True to my 1980's roots, I spent some time replaying the Mass Effect video game, so I can replay the 2nd one, in anticipation of the 3rd one comign out in March. I am glad I asked the SO to leave the Xbox behind and he agreed to do so. Really didn't want to have to buy a new system! 

I've also got the dogs fairly well adapted to their 2x a week swim schedule. i wish I could do it 3x a week but since it's not my pool I did what I could. Twice is enough to build muscle at least. They LOVE the swimming. Today Seri tried to bust through the gate to get into the water. Impulse control, not her strongest attribute...

Speaking of Seri, she continues to look totally fine. I am waiting another week or so before introducing any agility exercises with speed, but I did decide to enter her in ONE DAY of an AKC trial in March. I am making this my mental deadline. If i can't get her to stay sound leading up to this trial, and be relatively pain-free (and not completely misaligned) afterwards, then I am giving up on keeping her in agility. Contrary to what some may believe, I actually really do want to be able to run her. That dog is difficult, yes, and maybe a little crazy, yes, but she freaking LOVES to run agility and it'll be a complete shame if she can't do it.

Seri back in January 2010 before the first injury.

06 January 2012

Seeking Sponsors...

Yep, it's that time again. The 2012 WAO Team USA is seeking sponsors! If you're interested in sponsoring the team, let me know, and I can put you in contact with our team manager. There are all kinds of sponsorship levels, from $50 on up to $5,000 with varying levels of recognition and advertising for each.

If you would like to sponsor me directly, that is also possible! New for this year we are doing "Dog Angel" sponsorships! You can email me and let me know you'd like to sponsor Kiba's veterinary costs, help with travel costs, or entry fees, or other costs of getting me and Kiba to Belgium. You can send us an unspecified amount like "vet costs" and I will let you know later on what the costs were and you can send the money to me, or "entry fees" in which case I will have to put you in touch with our manager because she does all the entering of classes. Or you can simply say you'd like to be one of Kiba's Angels and send any amount to me.

What do you get for that? Well, first off, you get that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you helped a great competitor get to Belgium to compete! I am not in a financial place in my career where a trip to europe is financially easy; this is a great burden on my finances and while our manager does a great job of getting sponsors to help defray costs, basically it comes down to my personal ability to pay for the trip.

Other benefits, you say?

Well, send me at least $50 and you will receive a public thank you both on Facebook and on my website, as I create a "Thanks to my wonderful sponsors" page...

In addition, anyone who wants to be Kiba's Angel and pledges at least $100, gets to send me their logo to put on Kiba's Back-on-Track coat (or other coat/cape, I haven't decided yet) to be worn around the event, including during the opening and closing ceremonies! This is great for business, since Kiba is really super adorable and has a fun little personality. Many people like to look at her and say "wow what a cute dog!". She will make a fantastic canine billboard ;) If you send me money for this and don't have a company logo, you are welcome to send some sort of silly phrase, or have me put your initials or name on, or anything really!

Already, Clean Run has agreed to sponsor the team with a generous donation towards uniform and general team expenses, and UKI has also pledged some money as well. Thanks very much to them!
Just so you don't think my "no racing like a Greyhound" rule means my dogs are heeling around the field, here's a couple silly phone pics from our walk this morning. My dogs are pretty free to move around. That is, after all, the best kind of exercise. I use our 10-20min field walks as an exercise "base" and also just as a way to let them "loosen up" if they've done something strenuous earlier in the day or the day before. It's not hard exercise but it gets them moving.

And every once in a while I do let them rip roar around like idiots, but only when I release them to do so by making a shush sound. Running like that is very high impact exercise and I prefer to save the high impact stuff for agility training, since it's so hard on their joints. I know I'm in a minority on that one. My dogs don't play fetch either. Luckily they are dogs, they live in the moment, and they have plenty of fun in their lives. They don't miss playing fetch.

Kiba noticed I was holding my phone up funny.

An example of "cantering calmly" which is totally allowed!

I added this pic only because I didn't use it yesterday. I had a heck of a time keeping Strafe off the peanut to take this picture! It looks small here but it's not.

Also (and yes I keep editing to add things), the weather is so mild I am going to set up a training set our Team Manager sent us this afternoon. Should be great fun!

05 January 2012

Conditioning, revisited - Winter Edition

Because I feel that conditioning is a really important subject, and because there are a lot of uninformed or misinformed people out there, I am going to revisit it briefly today. The first rule is - don't jump your dog every day! I can't tell you how much it bothers me that people do agility every day. Jumping, contacts, and weaves are very hard on the dog's body. The landing impact from jumps is hard on certain core muscles, as well as the strain on the front legs and shoulders. Agility, especially jumping, should not be done 2 days in a row for training purposes. When your dog jumps, it should have at least 24-48 hours of "no jumping" time in between. The exception, of course, is for agility shows and seminars/camps when you don't really have a choice. And of course doing agility on a Saturday and a Sunday is not going to break your dog all by itself, however, you should understand that each progressive day tears down your dog's muscles a little bit more each time, without giving them sufficient time to recover and rebuild.

So I basically do agility 1 to 3 times a week. I do courses or sequences only once a week, with the other practice times being either jump grids or very short skill sequences or obstacle skills for contacts/weaves. Weaves are very tough on shoulders and wrists and spines, so I don't do a lot of repetition with those if I can help it, just some skill work when I feel the dogs need some polish..

What I usually try to do is pick 2 or 3 activities every day for my dogs. Right now we have set times for our swim appointments over the winter, so I am building around that. I try not to mix similar exercises on any given day. For example if I do a tight bounce grid with the jumps, which is a high impact and tough core exercise, I probably won't also work on the peanut inside. I may, however, swim them, take them for a short walk around our field, or go for a hike at the park. It's all about variety and building up muscle. Here is an example week. Keep in mind that I usually hike on-leash, and when I walk in my home fields, they are off leash BUT they are not allowed to "gallop" or "run like a greyhound" - they may walk, trot, canter/run slowly, and sniff, etc all they like, but they may not act like hooligans and run around like crazy things.

Example Week for my competition dogs:
Morning: 60 min hike at the park on leash
If we had a trial the previous weekend, I would stop at that, if not then I would do more:
Mid-day: contact practice
Afternoon: 10minutes of mixed core work on Peanut and on ground.

Late Morning: 20-25min of swimming
Afternoon: 20min walk in our field

Morning: 20min walk in our field
Afternoon: 15min of course/sequence work in agility
Evening: 10min of free movement in the agility indoor off leash

Late morning: 20-25min swimming
Afternoon: 15min walk in our home fields
Evening: 10min of mixed core work on peanut and with wrist weights

Morning: 60min walk at the park
if there is a trial on Saturday, I would stop at that. If not I would add more:
Afternoon: 10min jumping grids or skill work
Evening: 5min of strengthening exercises with no props

Saturday and Sunday would be non-agility days if there is no trial. I would probably go hiking at least one of the days, when the weather is nice. Maybe explore some new trails. And lots of walks in the field when it isn't too muddy or frozen. I really avoid allowing my dogs to run on frozen ground.

Please keep in mind this is an *example* of a week my dogs might have - it will vary from week to week depending on their fitness level and how busy I am.

A note about core work - I don't understand the popularity of doing high speed work with the peanuts and fit discs and Bosu balls. This generally looks really dangerous to me, as the dogs' legs go flying out sideways as they land. I'm sure it does build muscle, but to me, the dangers outweigh the benefit, especially when I find it relatively easy to tire my dogs out right in my living room with no speed necessary. To me, working with the balls, discs, and weights, and even without any props at all, is like a human going to a weight room. I am trying to build specific muscles and muscle groups, and strengthen my dogs. I am not working on cardio or endurance - I have other exercises for that. I am trying to make them literally stronger, with no danger of slipping or falling and no impact involved. I certainly don't care to mix jumping and core work - why would I waste a "jumping day" on core work, when I would rather use jumping to work on jumping or handling skills instead?

Here are some examples of core work I do in my house:
standing on Peanut, turning their head side to side and up and down (by moving a treat around for them to look at), sitting on it, laying down it, going from sit to down to stand and back again, I rock it very slightly side to side and front to back, and once they are comfy on it they can work on turning around. They are on it for about 2-3minutes at a time, and don't get off the entire time they're on it, generally.

Bosu ball - put the dog's front end on it and have them learn to walk their back end around it. Then put their back end and do the opposite - this is harder but is good shoulder work. Sitting on it. Sitting up to beg on it. I work on having them step onto it and off again, both forwards and backwards, with only front feet or rear feet at a time.

Wrist weights (pictured) - you must get these through a qualified professional. I am lucky to have them but I am very careful with them. They have 2 different weights, 2oz and 4oz. You can use them on front and rear legs, but you only use them a couple minutes at a time. You can simply walk the dog with them, or walk them through a ladder, or have them do some basic Bosu ball exercises with them, or my favorite - walking up and down the stairs on leash. This is quite tough and I do it 2x on front legs and 2x on back legs, only once or twice a week.

No props - well there are videos out there describing lots of fun things to do with your dog that work on muscles and proprioception as well. We work on crawling, begging, standing up, I hold their front legs up on me and walk them backwards (don't go forwards). We do sit-down-sit and sit-stand-sit and down-stand-down  a bunch of times in a row. Some simple spinning exercises. Backing up down a hallways (to keep them straight).

Also I try to stretch my dogs basic muscles out once or twice a week to keep an eye on them, and they sleep in their Back on Track mesh coats most of the time. If they curl up and look chilly for any reason I put a sweater on them. I would much rather be mocked for having spoiled dogs than have dogs with cold muscles that aggravate possible injuries. They are extremely well taken care of!

Oh and of course they all see a physical therapist once a month to keep track of how they're doing! I have learned tons from her and I believe that's why my dogs do so well physically.

04 January 2012


So this is a bit of a 2011 recap, 2012 goals post, but I won't go too in-depth. I am basically always planning ahead with long-term "big" goals, and so my short-term agility goals are always designed around those, but of course dogs are dogs; unpredictable, so all those plans are malleable and I really cannot feel bad if I don't accomplish something.

For 2011 I had a few major goals. I really, really wanted to defend Drifter's NAC title, and although I would've been perfectly happy with him if he had not done it, he did, and so we won AKC Nationals 2 years in a row, with the fastest time of all jump heights. Not bad for an 8 and 1/2 year old dog, let alone one with crooked feet, a toe that doesn't work anymore, and a heart murmur! We also did well at the inaugural WAO, and although the Games Championship eluded us by a mere refusal at the gamble, we did manage to win the Biathlon, and that was a great moment in his career and mine as well; I am very proud of our performance at that event. And to cap off his last "big" year, he made Grand Prix Finals, for the FIFTH time. I don't know how many dogs have done that, but it has to be a short list... and along with that was probably the singular most disappointing moment in time of my agility career, and our very first off course in a Final run. But, I can be proud of all the other amazing things we've done, and my 9 year old dog was seeded first going into Finals, and I am very proud of that!

Kiba did well, and although she didn't make AKC Finals, she did throw down some great runs in Lexington and I am looking forward to running her in Reno this spring. Kiba also won 2 out of the 3 Performance Finals at USDAA, and was selected to be on the 2012 WAO Team, which is a huge accomplishment.

Seri actually started the year out very very well, winning 2 very competitive local Grand Prix's, and was actually the first of my 3 dogs to qualify completely for USDAA Nationals, but unfortunately recurring lameness issues derailed my goals for her, and the second half of the year was spent in rehab, conditioning, and strengthening.

Strafe's goals were all about training, and I am happy with where he is.

(these are his dock diving ribbons:)

For 2012...
Drifter will finish his MACH2 and retire.

Kiba is going to Reno for AKC Nationals, and Belgium for the WAO. Of course I know she CAN win the 16" AKC Final, but I am happy with whatever she can give me. She is so much fitter and more in tune this year, that our chances are very good. For the WAO, I want to do well; I think she could win something like the Pentathlon that is cumulative over 5 rounds. I don't know if she could win something like Biathlon where it is a little more speed oriented over only 2 rounds, but as of right now I don't even know what classes we'll be in. For now her goals are to be able to run at 20"/22" more often and with less bars down. She handles the height very well without struggling, she just has to pay a lot more attention and remember to go "up" more...

Seri, after consulting with my PT, is going back into a similar program to what we've been doing, but we will actually be introducing agility at a higher frequency. So instead of keeping it down to once a week, I will be slowly working up to 3x a week, in short sessions of course. The goal is to make sure we build agility-specific muscles, and also to test her shoulder. Basically the only way to find out if her muscles are capable of holding the bones in place properly, is to try to slowly build up the agility and see what happens. Luckily, it does seem that I can tell when something goes slightly out of whack, before it gets serious. So i will watch her closely.

Strafe has lofty goals for 2012, I would like to qualify him for AKC Nationals and Tryouts in 2013... along with possibly going to the EO in Sweden in July.

I am not sure if any of them are going to USDAA Nationals. I am already sort of committed to going to the local Regional, so I guess I will make a token effort to qualify for that.

Anyway, that's my rambling late-night-for-me post. I was happy that my PT felt that Seri still feels pretty good post-chiro adjustment from a few weeks ago. She agreed with my vet's assessment of the x-ray and has contacted Dr. Canapp to see if he has any advice or opinion on the issue, but she feels that with proper strengthening Seri might still be OK to do agility. So I will continue on with the strengthening and try to be really strict with the specific shoulder and core work that I do. It is nice to have an answer for what is wrong at least, to know it's not some nebulous "soft tissue" thing that has no cause other than "Seri is reckless".
If I am able to get a strengthening program that keeps her sound, I would love to qualify her for one of the National events and take her. She isn't my most consistent dog, but she LOVES to run and I enjoy running her, exhausting though it may be...

Tomorrow we go swimming again. The dogs are loving their indoor heated swimming appointments twice a week!

(this is Seri after a swim last week:)

02 January 2012

Some of Strafe's runs from the trial this past weekend. He was a very good boy his first weekend at 24", and finished both his NA and NAJ and even picked up an Open Standard leg.

Due to most of my potential videographers being in the same jump height, I didn't get any other dog's runs on video. Trig got 2 more QQ's at 26" with me, and Kiba had a few great one-bar runs and then QQ on Sunday with 2 really fast, nice runs at 20". She is not struggling with the height at all, I just have to keep conditioning and doing jump work till she remembers (and is capable of) to jump UP over the jumps, rather than just forward like she can with 16".

Today I picked up a couple shelties to keep for 2 nights till they go home with Ria to be worked on. I figure it's a good "test run" to see how I really like shelties;)

So far, one of them is in a playful kind of love with Strafe. Barks at him, jumps on him, wrestles, even humped him once! Too funny...

Also this week I get Ria's opinion on Seri's x-ray. I don't think it looks awful, and no, clearly it isn't the best x-ray on earth, but I do think it does look like something isn't quite right there. I don't know how bad it is, whether it will affect her ability to do agility or not, or whether it's genetic or not - in this case it is such an odd finding that I'd actually wonder if it was just an oddball congenital defect. It's certainly not something i've ever heard of a BC ever having before. i very well may end up with a consult at VOSM to talk to Dr. Canapp, the foremost sports-dog shoulder expert in the country... I'd prefer not to take another x-ray because shoulder x-rays require sedation, but I will if I must. I have reached a point where the 10 months of on/off/on/off shoulder issues have made me want an answer - can this dog do agility or not? If not, I am OK with it, but I would like to know!