22 September 2013

Taking it pretty easy this week. Taught class, did my online work, had this weekend off so I caught up with a few videos i had to make and today I took Strafe and Kiba for a walk in the beautiful weather. I LOVE fall, my favorite season. Cooler weather is such a relief after our hot, humid, and entirely unpredictable summer. This weekend was perfect, cool nights and days that were only just warm enough to wear a t-shirt.

And sometimes my Droid decides to capture a really great picture.

We have all been lazy bums about hiking since returning from the EO. I hate getting all sweaty by hiking in the summer, and our nearest park can be busy when the weather is nice so we have to stay on leash. So we've just been doing laps around our field at home instead. Trying to get back out there so we get more hills in and are not out of shape for USDAA Nationals in October!

16 September 2013

Sometimes I wonder if I should transform this blog. I know some "big name" agility handlers make their blogs all about advertising their services. Others wax poetic about various things. Still others make their blog about educating others. I can see the value in each, and I certainly can admit to having an impulse to each of them at some point or another. But the truth is, I blog because I like to. I can't explain precisely why; part of it is certainly that i can look back at these posts from the future, when they've become the past, and it is really interesting to do. And I am a chronic loser of things; a paper journal would be lost inside a month in my house, I'm sure. But another part is that some people like to read it, as a way of keeping track of what I'm doing. It sort of baffles me that people enjoy this, even while at the same time I enjoy doing this myself (reading the blogs of others). It's sort of a daily gossip column or agility soap opera, I suppose. What is So-and-So doing this week?? Anyway, I am not going to significantly change my blog. It is basically just a journal where I post whatever the hell I please, whenever I feel like it! That said, I try not to be too controversial, although my rather oblivious social sense sometimes leads me astray in that arena ;)


This past weekend we went to a local AKC trial, the smallest one we attend all year. It is technically 2 rings but they alternate which one is going so there's only one running at a time. It's nice, relaxed, small, my dogs do well on the dirt footing, and we're done by 1pm each day.

Kiba really liked this venue, something about the lighting and perhaps the color and consistency of the footing led to her jumping looking better than it has in a long time, and she got a QQ on Friday and a JWW Q on Sunday. This puts her only 2 single Q's, about 40 points, and 1 QQ away from qualifying for Nationals. So, basically, if she gets a QQ she will be done. We only have 4 or 5 more days of trials before the end of the qualifying period, so I'm not sure whether she can do it or not, but we'll certainly give it a shot. Nationals is so close this year, only 2 hours drive away, that I will probably take her with me whether she's entered or not, so I'd love to be able to run her one last time before she retires! But I can't put pressure on her to Q; all the mistakes she made this weekend were not on purpose - for example, one NQ was her not finding me out of a tunnel, and when she did spot me, she came to a stop and looked at me like "WTF, dummy!!!?"... so clearly I need to talk to her and stay closer to tunnel exits. Crossing my fingers that she can qualify - our next 2 trials are outdoors on grass and then indoors on dirt again. I am theorizing that the lines on the ground of the last soccer pace may have been making it difficult for her to judge the jumps, but the truth is I am not sure what made her worse at that facility. She squints a lot in strong sunlight so I'm not sure how she'll do outside, but we do train outside here at home, so she should be used to it.

Strafe had a great weekend. Picked up QQ's on Friday and Saturday, and a JWW Q on Sunday, going 5 for 6 and finally raising our Q rate a little more. He's got all the QQ's he needs for Tryouts now, and all the standard Q's as well. Just 2 more JWW Q's and we'll be all done (unless they change the requirements - they aren't actually out yet). I am happy that he Q'ed in JWW all 3 days, as that's been our bugaboo since returning from the EO. He did knock one bar on Sunday morning in Standard, only the 2nd jump on course, and my timing with the verbal marker was so good that he stopped before the next obstacle, looking at me, so I took the opportunity to walk him off the course for the bar. Then he ran clean in JWW so we had a party;) I don't normally walk my dogs off for bars but with Strafe, he is just such an enormously talented jumper, and I can't make him knock bars at home no matter what I do, so I am really convinced that he has the ability to jump the jumps he's hitting - it is more a matter of being too excited at the trial and making the wrong choice for striding. So I mark it, remove from the course, and we move on. The great thing about Strafe is, he understands things like that, and he CARES about doing it better next time!

this weekend we are home, I didn't mean to schedule the weekend off but I had some seminars that had trouble finding a date and so I just never ended up with anything on this weekend. The only local AKC trial is outdoors at a park I'm not too fond of, the ground slopes and the grass is never cut short enough, and it always seems to rain. So I'm not sad that I didn't enter. We will go for walks instead.

In other news; Kiba's arthritis foot/wrist joints held up pretty well, she looked a little sore Friday evening but other than that no visible limping. I am continuing to *happily* leave the course if she faults before weaves or contacts so I can avoid that extra impact. I do worry that agility may be causing her a small amount of pain but honestly if it is, she isn't showing it. The professionals are advising me to keep running her and see how she does, so that is the road we will travel for now! I am definitely facing next year of only one dog competing, which means even if I do get a puppy next summer, I will still have at least another year or so of one dog competing, that's 2 to 3 years of it! What a foreign concept, but I do love trialing and traveling with Strafe, he is really "my dog" in a way none of my others are, despite my love for them and their place in my household. But I don't think I can wait another 3 years to get a puppy; next summer or sometime the following year would be good, I think. Then Strafe will be almost 4 or over 4 when it arrives, and around 6 when it starts trialing. So there would not be a lot of competitive overlap - if Strafe retires from international level competition at 8, the pup would be coming into its own at 4 and should be ready to go. I am assuming they won't all be "ready to go" at such an insanely young age as Strafe - in fact I'm counting on it! I didn't want to "rush" Strafe, and I don't feel like I did, but he was always just egging me on - "let's DO this already!"

Will the next puppy be a son or daughter of Strafe? Maybe, maybe not!

10 September 2013

PNW and a BDay

So I spent a week out in the Pacific Northwest. First I stopped in Seattle, taught and hung out at Argus Ranch, which is a really nice place with such cool on-site lodging! Even if the dirt does go through your shoes....

Then we drove down to Portland, and I taught 2 more days, one of which was actually Strafe's 3rd birthday! He is still so young but so amazingly mature. In some weird way I'm glad he's finally 3 so I can view him as a little bit more of an adult, which is what he's basically been since he came home at 10 weeks old! What an awesome, cool dog he is.

01 September 2013

Berks Recap

Well, Strafe has some work to do, I guess. 5 days of trialing and he's gotten 5 standard legs, and only 1 jumpers leg... He is a really good jumping dog but something about these AKC JWW courses just really get to him and he tends to hit a bar. This weekend I got a little peeved with it and walked him off on Saturday when he hit one. It wasn't a difficult bar; it was a situation he has seen over and over and over in his life, with fair but not generous spacing. In other words a very typical AKC jumping challenge. At 26" on these courses he just has a bit of trouble. Which is funny in a not-laughing way, I suppose, since he went all weekend at Tryouts and EO both and didn't hit a single bar at either one. Also 0 bars down at the USDAA Regional over 11 runs at 26". But the spacing and course flow is very different at all of those events. More engagement from his brain, less running forward "mindlessly" and more space between most obstacles. Regardless, this needs to be fixed, since otherwise he is such a lovely consistent dog and I'm determined to try to get his MACH before Tryouts next spring.

I also ran Kiba this weekend (I only entered Fri/Sat, taking today off to avoid the long drive and traffic). Her arthritic feet held up OK, although several times when she faulted early in the course I waved goodbye the judge and jogged off, to save her from doing extra contacts or weaves. I tried not to communicate to Kiba that anything went wrong, because I don't really blame her for hitting bars anymore. She clearly has a problem seeing where they are.

Speaking of that... Kiba went 1 for 4 this weekend, and all of her NQ's were a bar down. Each of the three bars were in relatively easy situations, where I was not in her way and not even particularly handling, aside from running nearby. I was not ahead, not far behind, not crossing, not doing anything difficult. Sadly, I think her vision is just not going to be up to the task of getting 2 more QQ's to qualify for Harrisburg. I am still taking her to TN for USDAA in October, because the single bars here and there won't harm our Team too much and maybe we'll have a good weekend like we did at the Regional. But running Kiba is "no pressure" now. I think she will retire after USDAA Cynosport. Which leaves me with only Strafe. I am playing with the idea of entering Seri in Performance or Preferred a little bit, just to play around and give me something else to do, but I am not sure if she can withstand it or not... she's been sound for several months now but she's so unpredictable!

Tuesday Strafe and I leave for the Northwest for about a week, teaching first in Seattle area, then in Portland. I've actually never been to Washington state, so I'm looking forward to it!

ETA, I can't remember if I linked this here or not previously, but here is a jumping comparison between Strafe and Kiba that I did several months ago. No matter what your thoughts on "ETS" are, it should be clear that Kiba has a problem seeing the jump properly at speed.

Comparison Video