First off, the other day I went out and tried once more to get a stacked photo of Strafe. In the end I had to hold him and use the timer on my camera. I know it seems silly to even try, since most people aren't good judges of structure anyway and I'm not even sure if he'll ever be bred (he's too young to make such a decision) but I do think he has really nice structure and I'd like to share that with you:)
He definitely has a much more mature coat in this version than the one from last summer at 10 months old. I don't really feel that his structure has changed much, he's just a much more "adult" looking dog now. And yes, the camera was tilting slightly in the above photo. Best I could do!
10 month photo below, for comparision:
I am a bit obsessive about structure, just as I am obsessive about all things that interest me. This doesn't mean I won't take a puppy with imperfect structure, it just means that I "see" structure when I look at a dog, and I analyze it, sometimes without even meaning to. I try to see how it affects the way they run and jump too. It is a very interesting exercise at an agility trial, when I'm bored between runs.
Structure is not the "be all end all" single trait that defines agility dogs' success. It's not even the primary trait that defines success. That would be attitude/temperament/personality. Followed by soundness/health, which ties into structure, of course. So I look for a dog with balanced structure, and there are, indeed, a few flaws that would prevent me from taking a puppy due to their strong effect on a dog's movement. Certainly none of my dogs have perfect structure, even Strafe. But he is definitely the closest one!
Now onto the other random stuff:
Yesterday I actually splurged and had my dog PT (who is a human PT with a lot of experience before switching to mostly dogs) work on me for a full hour. She loosened a bunch of tight spots related to my shoulder issue, and reiterated what she and another have told me - the left side of my rib cage was not mobilized properly. I have felt "twisted" and like I really needed to "crack" something over there for a while. She did what she could to mobilize everything, and I'm hoping to start going to a chiropractor and massage therapy a couple times a month to try slowly normalize everything. I am also diligently doing my strengthening work with weights and a peanut. Which leads into another random thing - this spring I had no less than three people tell me I looked thinner. I am always wanting to be more fit, but I am fundamentally a lazy person who would rather read a book than work out, so it's been hard to force myself into a more active habit. I think all the crazy traveling jump-started it, because I have felt more restless at home lately, leading me to actually be more dedicated to working out a little - mostly focusing on my arms to help strengthen my shoulders and back. However as of the winter I have been traveling a ton and walking 45min or so every day to keep my dogs fit, and that combined with the fact that I've been on the road a lot seems to have done something because when I finally weighed myself the other day it turns out I have lost about 10 pounds in the last 6 months, without really "trying"... so I'm going to keep at the strengthening regime, the walking, and my usual habit of "grazing" for meals. Seems to be working well. I have also, at the request of my PT, added some new stretching into the routine, and I'm trying really hard not to sit like a twisted up person. That's actually quite hard for me, I'm wondering if I need a stiffer chair or something...
This weekend is the start of 3 weekends of teaching. i am happy about that; it means I get to work with people teaching them new skills, not to mention the boring goal of making money so I can actually afford the AKC trials in July that I have entered...
I have also decided that since Seri is working on 5+ months of total soundness, if Kiba gets qualified for Tulsa, I will stop entering her and start entering Seri in AKC, on the outside chance that she can keep it together and get some QQ's. We will see what happens. Seri is going to be an aunt soon. . . I am very curious to see how the pups turn out.
Ryze the giant sheltie is still holding somewhere between 15 and 15.5" tall. But his body looks more "adult" suddenly so I'm hopeful his growth is almost done. He's not quite 6 months yet, so I can't be sure!
I leave you with happy Strafe. Always smiling!