30 May 2013

Cute in any position.

Just before Tryouts I had Kiba in to the vet for bloodwork. She has had some increased drinking and urination, on and off, for about a year now. Last year bloodwork showed no abnormalities, and sometimes the increase would seem a bit worse and then sometimes it would get better (for months at a time). She is not incontinent, and goes all night without a problem. This time they told me her ALT (one of her liver enzymes) was slightly elevated, nothing too serious, but to watch and recheck. I changed her diet a bit (cutting down the amount of bone in her raw, adding more veggies and muscle meat) and started supplementing with milk thistle and SAMe, and I reran the bloodwork the other day (4 weeks later) and the values had dropped significantly, and are now just barely above normal. So I am going to continue as-is with the diet change and recheck in about 2-3 months. And I am pleased to say her increased drinking seems to have "dried up" as well ;)
I originally thought, last year, that her drinking was due to the forced air heating system which she's never had before, but this year I noticed a drinking increase right in the warm part of spring, when our heat was barely on at all, and now that her enzymes have dropped she is drinking a more normal amount - I don't see her over at the water bowl "tanking up" several times a day.

So hurray for healthy dogs! I'm glad nothing else is going on with her - no thyroid or other issues, and of course having recently had an eye exam I know her eyes are clear of cataracts as well. And she got a pretty good PT check-up yesterday. So for an 8.5 year old dog, Kiba's looking fabulous!

This weekend is my last weekend "home" for quite a while. I've got 3 different flights coming up in June, to CA and back twice, and then to Raleigh NC, with our local USDAA Regional in the middle of all of it. Bit of a marathon! Then July is a couple of AKC trials, followed by our trip to Belgium for the EO! Coming up so quickly it's hard to believe!

We haven't really practiced agility since before Tryouts, even though we've run in 2 AKC trials. First I wanted to rest him, then he had the stupid spider bite, then the antibiotics upset his stomach.... well tomorrow we will finally run a training course again. And I've started him swimming several times a week as well, since it is getting too hot to hike for long distances most days. We are going to start hiking first thing in the morning soon, because without hiking I get lazy myself, and that is not good!

How I've been feeling since Tryouts. Need to work on that! 

29 May 2013

I made a video of some highlights from Tryouts interspersed with some of the great photos I got. I'm not as good at these as some others but I like to have the highlights collected into one place for selfish reasons as well, so I can go back and watch it again!

Here is the Vimeo version which I think I prefer

And here's a version with doofy Youtube free music for those who can't see the Vimeo one for some reason.

All 4 dogs and myself got worked on by our PT today, Strafe and Kiba were feeling pretty good even after running on the iffy dirt over the weekend. Drifter and Seri were a bit of a mess, just tight and Seri's wrist is still healing from it's re-injury, apparently. So they will be on light duty for a day or two before running or playing too hard, but they should be fine. We also got Seri's custom carpal support fitted better and trimmed down a bit so the extra support won't stick out too much. It seems to fit really well, I just need to give the ligament a bit more time to heal up before I let her run too hard, even in the support. I am hoping by the end of the summer I can start herding with her again!

27 May 2013

The photographer at Tryouts got several cool series of photos from the event.

Here is me converging/serping over a jump in Round 3

Another cool series from the ending of the Round 4 Jumpers, cueing a jump and then running off again.

Strafe jumps with his eye closed on occasion - I guess that's a by-product of him turning to close to the standard! (Round 2, jump before the weave poles)

More another day!

26 May 2013


Well this weekend's AKC trial was maybe not the perfect set of QQ's for both dogs, however, I am coming away pretty pleased anyway, especially with little Kiba.

I think she's really gotten the hang of the verbal I have introduced - "turn" which simply means "there is a turn after this jump", basically "jump and find me again" rather than "jump and continue on down the line". Normally this is not a cue I would need, as my dogs generally are very keyed into my body cues, however, with Kiba's far-sighted vision I find that she is judging lines of jumps very early and sort of locking onto things, and loses track of my position.

First run back for her was a standard course, and she did very well, her corners a bit wider as I have to be deliberately late on some of her front crosses, but as long as I'm there, in her face, she will turn. She just hit the triple, it was on a long space between a tunnel and the aframe, and I got ahead a bit, so I think I need to hang back a little for the big spreads and just get her to focus on them with her other strong verbal cue "over" (spread jump - look at it!).

Her second run on Saturday was JWW, and it was kind of a mess, she hit the 2nd bar on a front cross then I didn't work her verbals hard enough in the right places and she ran off course a couple of times.

Sunday the courses were very good for her, it was easy to do rear crosses or fronts in places where there was no "pressure" as she was jumping. And she QQ with a 1st place in both classes, finally beating Strafe's times as well, which she hasn't done in a while! I was really, really pleased with how the weekend went with her, and I have a bit of homework to make us gel a bit more as a team, but I am optimistic right now about getting another year of competition with her.

Strafe also ran this weekend, and even though we ended with only 1 standard Q, he only had one "mistake" that I can pin on him - he got too close to a bar on Saturday and knocked it, that is the only thing he has been doing wrong on occasion in AKC. On Sunday he got called on a missed aframe contact (his first miss in competition!) but I know that is something I need to work on - we've been seeing a lot of turns after the aframe lately and he is not driving forward well. That is not his fault - he does not have "criteria" to meet on that obstacle. And then in JWW he slipped taking off and hit a bar pretty hard, he looked startled and confused when he landed so I didn't yell at him, just made sure he looked OK then continued on. The dirt was loose and a bit deep in spots, and I think it surprised him when it gave under his feet.

Now we don't have any AKC trials until July. Next weekend we are home, then June gets a bit crazy - teaching in CA, the USDAA Regional, Team Practice back in CA, then teaching in NC!

24 May 2013

Random stuff interspersed with random pictures.

Spent all day yesterday hiking, lunching, and hanging out with a friend. Strafe, Kiba, and Seri all got to come along. She lives 2 hours away so we were basically away all day, but the dogs didn't seem to mind. They love visiting with friends and going for a nice long hike with them. I could tell Seri was tired after 2 and 1/2 hours of walking but she really needs to get in shape slowly, so her muscles can build up before we stress the ligaments too strongly. She has her nice custom carpal support now but when I let her run hard the other day she was still a bit sore afterwards so I am going to make a bit more effort to build all her muscles up slowly first, before letting her really run hard again.

I got my pictures from Tryouts! I'm so glad there was a good photographer there this year, who ran a deal on buying all your pictures for a reasonable price!

This weekend we are back to the "daily grind" of local AKC trials again. It is actually Kiba's first trial since AKC Nationals more than 2 months ago, so I am eager to see how she does. She hit a few bars in training over the weekend but AKC courses are usually not too difficult for her, so I am remaining hopeful that she can qualify for Nationals next year. We'll give it a shot, anyway! Strafe also needs a bunch of Q's still, so we're just chipping away at it.

I am also in the beginning of planning stages for my trip to the EO. I decided not to run in a seminar right after the event, as I feel that will be too much agility for my dog and I in a short period of time, and the person who was going to go with me did not make the team. So I am now looking for something fun to do for a few days after the event. Suggestions welcome!

20 May 2013

20 May

This past weekend was spent teaching at our local rented indoor, so nice to teach only 15 minutes drive from home! It was fun, we always get a really good group of people here locally, they ask good questions and try really hard and support each other nicely!

Friday night into Saturday, the antibiotics finally caught up to Strafe's stomach and he had some major "GI Upset" all over my bedroom :( poor little guy didn't want breakfast Saturday either, so I called the vet and they gave me a different antibiotic that is gentler on his stomach, and now by Monday he is feeling a LOT better, eating normally, not needing to go out constantly, and his nose is almost fully healed. Just a couple small scabs left to come off, and he isn't even losing much hair, so he won't look ridiculous and bald! Yay! So glad he's doing better.

This coming weekend we have a local AKC trial. Strafe needs 1 more QQ for Nationals, 2 more for Tryouts (I didn't realize our one in April counted towards next year), and just some points and Q's for Nationals as well. This will also be Kiba's first trial back since AKC Nationals in mid-March, since we got her eye diagnosis. I am hoping she runs well, and I will do my best to try to handle her like she needs to be handled!  AKC Nationals is only 2 hours from my house next spring, so I would love to take her one least time! She is also running at the Regional in June. I'm going to use these 2 events to get a feel for running her and see if it seems practical to take her to TN for USDAA Nationals.

16 May 2013

(shamelessly stolen from AKC's Facebook page)
The rest of the EO Teams were announced today - it's a pretty good team, I think this will be our best showing yet at the event! So glad that so many great handlers and dogs applied!

I have booked my flights to Team Practice! So excited about that, although I'm a little sad I don't get to fly in early enough to sight see in San Francisco... another time, maybe!

Strafe's face is healing really quickly now and doesn't seem to bother him anymore, although I am too afraid of germs to take him swimming in the creek for a while, which is a shame because the weather is so nice and warm today!

While I admit I was admiring some nice shelties at Tryouts, I have decided that I am going back to Denmark for my next puppy! Strafe's mother is being bred again in the fall, and since Jane and I have very similar taste in dogs, I can't turn down this opportunity to bring another fabulous puppy back to the USA!

15 May 2013

Last night Strafe's nose was pretty raw, red, and a bit oozing. This morning it actually looks a little bit better so I think the vet has given us the right combo to knock this thing out and help it heal. I am sure he will lose the hair from the raw spots though, and will not look so sexy for a while!

Thanks to Kirsten A for these fun photos from the trial this past weekend, BEFORE he started losing his pretty face!

14 May 2013

after the vet

Less swelling, more raw skin. Vet says definitely an allergic reaction to something (very probably a spider bite, but can't tell for sure). It has spread up to his eyebrow. He is going on a few days of steroids and 2 weeks of antibiotics and will get checked again then to make sure it's healing properly. Good news - no fever means probably no horrible infection, and no fleas or any type of mange either.

Wilmington Kennel Club, and a lumpy face

Strafe did finish out the weekend of agility on Sunday with a nice solid QQ, although I still feel he needs a bit of a break from agility due to not pushing as hard as he usually does. Nevertheless I'm happy to have 3 Qs including a QQ under our belt towards qualifying for Tryouts next year, and that is our 3rd QQ towards Nationals next year as well.

Sunday night I noticed Strafe's face was lumpy and he had a mark that was bleeding a bit. He appears to have been bitten by a spider or some kind of insect he is somewhat allergic to. I have been giving him benedryl (a basic antihistamine) and putting an antibiotic creme on his muzzle as well. 

You can see the lumpiness around his nose and muzzle. Well this morning it is oozing blood a bit in a few places and he's also got an open lump on his left eyebrow, so we made an appointment to see the vet early this afternoon. 

My friend's dog got a spider bite on his head - he healed up fine but he lost the hair in the affected area for a while, hoping Strafe doesn't do that, he'll lose some of his dashing good looks!

12 May 2013

Teams 'n stuff

the 2013 WAO kicks off next weekend.

It is the 3rd year for the event, and the first year I won't be attending. I was not chosen this year, not even for alternate. My dog is young, so not a big deal, but I will miss going. It is a fun event, even if it is not as big as EO or AWC. And I won't be going next year either, since WAO Team is now required to attend the UKI event in order to qualify.

 I have enough trouble budgeting my time to qualify for both USDAA and AKC - I'm not willing to give up either of those to add UKI to the mix, so I will be sticking with EO and AWC tryouts. I'm very happy to now have a dog who can run successfully at 26"! It opens up the possibility of trying out for pretty much any team that I like. And so I will stick with EO - I have never gone, and I'm really looking forward to it. But I have been forgetting - if AWC had been in Europe this year I would have tried out for it - Strafe was qualified to do so. And we would have won a spot, easily, according to our results at Tryouts. So I can pretend we won a spot on AWC this year even though we didn't (because I didn't apply) so that is a huge accomplishment, even if it is somewhat imaginary :)

11 May 2013

random stuff

I entered a local AKC trial this weekend, basically because it is the absolute closest trial to my house. It's alos the only outdoor trial I ever enter. We have so much indoor agility available here, I just don't usually need to chance the weather. It was a bit rainy last night but was clear this morning so I did go to the trial, Strafe's first run in Standard was gorgeous; I held his dogwalk and see-saw contacts which he did without question, and his jumping was nice. But when I ran Jumpers he hit a bar fairly early in, I stopped and said "hey!" to him, we continued on, and near the end of the course he hit another, so I stopped and walked off. I think his pelvis was a bit out, I'll stretch him out and see how he looks in the morning. It also may rain a lot more this afternoon and overnight, and if I think the footing will be compromised I won't run him. It isn't worth the risk! But we do need Q's in AKC, so I'd rather not waste our time and money by not going.

It is a whole new experience for me thinking about planning a trip that will be paid for by an organization, but I can't say I dislike it! I am really looking forward to going to Team Practice in June!

My new course at Agility U starts on Monday. It will be a new and more difficult experience for me than teaching blinds - not because I'm in any way uncomfortable teaching the material, but because it may be more difficult to teach people to "dance" in a long-distance fashion. But I'll sure give it a try! I hope it proves valuable for everyone who signed up. Now that the European type maneuvers are gaining popularity, I see quite a few people mis- or over-using them, on regular turns, where they would really be better served by simply tossing the dog over the jump and running off. So we will do a lot of discussion about when, where, and why to use the different techniques.

08 May 2013

Videos and brief analysis of each run

I'll start by just posting the video:

First Course: We actually took our time in the morning since Large dogs ran 3rd on the first round, so we arrived as Small dogs were finishing up - I looked at the ring, saw the straight tunnels and fun jump arrangements, and immediately got excited. Picking up the course map and looking at it was even better. What a fun round! After watching some of the Medium dogs run, I was pretty sure I already knew how I wanted to handle everything, and walking it just confirmed it. I'm pretty thrilled with how it went - we won the class by .7 of a second, which is a strong margin at an event  with such amazing competition - the best in the country! I was a little surprised when we finished and I looked at my time, but it was a happy surprise!

Second Course - this course was set up very well for a running dogwalk, in that there were no difficult turns off the end, so I was a little worried that we couldn't win this run. I knew that if we ran clean and our cumulative time over the first 2 runs was the fastest, that we would win the first AKC-funded spot on the Team. So I deliberately took a few small chances with my handling path, cued the turn before the big spread jump (our dogs never see this jump in the USA except at Tryouts, basically), and trusted him to do it. It worked fabulously. Now our biggest competition who had run clean in Round 1 (who has a running dogwalk) happened to have a small mistake - no faults, but the dog turned the wrong way out of the tunnel after the dogwalk, which took up time. So with our clean, fast run we won the class AND the first spot on the EO Team!

Third Course: I really had no good reason to run this one other than to "show off" for the team coach and to have some fun, so perhaps we didn't take it seriously enough. I will admit I had very little adrenaline going for this one, I was like "la la we are on the team, yay!" in my head. Nevertheless, I was surprised by the goofy off courses where he ran behind me (twice)! So that is some homework for us, to work on pulling around corners and Strafe NOT assuming this is a blind cross - in both of these instances, I clearly have a strong "side cue" down (arm, head turned) but he sees my feet or other arm make a small move and he is keying off that much too easily. He should not be thinking "blind cross" as his first thought just because he happens to see an aframe or a jump right behind me. So this run served to remind me that my amazing dog is ONLY TWO YEARS OLD and not finished training yet ;)

Fourth Course: Sunday morning's jumping round was eating them alive, and I was pretty happy with my handling choices for it, it was going great, till I over-pulled in order to avoid an off course jump that Strafe didn't even look at. I pulled too hard, he thought I was cuing the tunnel, we went off course. I will take this one as my fault - I just hooked him over the correct jump, which I should have aimed for in the first place, and we finished our run beautifully. Duh. I could have done that one clean, if I had just run for the jump I wanted.

Fifth Course: I was OK with this course, was secure in my handling choices but not really excited about it. Just was not as "fun" as that Round 1, I guess. I knew the aframe would be sketchy - I had to slow down a bit to push him out to it, and then I didn't really have a chance to run forward and support it. He's never actually missed an aframe at a trial, ever, so I was pretty sure he'd be OK, but I was also pretty sure it would be sketchy. Well we did our opening well, but my feet just got stuck after I pushed to the frame, he one-hit the down ramp and came off really high and on the side. I was 100% sure he missed it. So I ran the rest of the course in a sort of "la la" mode - I wanted to finish out clean and strong, but I wasn't pushing. I held my see-saw. I held my dogwalk. Guess what? Judge didn't call his aframe. So we won the class! That gave us 3 wins over the weekend and also meant we "won" the 4th spot on the team, determined by placement points - but of course we already had a spot so that one was passed down to the only other dog who placed and ran clean in 3 rounds (Silvina & Tcam).

Overall a great weekend!

06 May 2013

2013 AKC EO Team Member!

We did it! Strafe and I started the weekend super strong by winning the first two classes with two beautiful clean runs, and won the very first spot for the EO Large Team!

the team (minus Terry & Presto who were late for the picture)

We had 2 other runs with a couple silly mistakes but mostly made of good stuff, and then finished the weekend strong by winning the last run. We actually were the first place dog for the 4th spot on the Team as well, in placement points, by winning 3 rounds - so that spot then passed down to the 2nd place dog, Tcam, who deserved it for also placing in 3 rounds! It will be a fun time, I am so excited to go to practice and run for AKC for the first time!

I ordered my videos and hopefully will have them later this week. To see the courses and results, you can go here on the AKC's website.

Now Strafe and I will enter a few weeks of "rest". I did enter a trial next weekend because it is only 20min from my house, but other than that we probably won't train agility for about 3 weeks. We will continue our hiking activities and after about 7-10 days I will begin to ramp up core and strengthening exercises as well. I want both of us to be over-prepared for the EO!

01 May 2013


Leaving tomorrow for Tryouts! Predicing a rain/snow mix on several days, I am hoping it is warm enough ground/air that travel is not a problem... I am sort of expecting to have a bit of a delay with the plane tomorrow but we are flying out mid-day so there is a good buffer, if we get a bit held up, and it's a fairly short, direct flight.

Last night was Strafe's last practice before we leave. I brought him to class with me and he did some demo work, practiced contacts, and ran the course I had set for the International class. He did great. We played with some options on a coupe parts (mostly 1 to 3) and I was happy with how he ran. Today we'll just take a few nice relaxing walks in the field here at home.

by Agility Gallery