06 September 2014

Still here (just for a couple more hours)

Strafe and I are leaving for Luxembourg in just a few short hours. Very excited to compete at our first (and hopefully not last) FCI AWC together! We are flying into Brussels directly, then several team members/management are renting a van together and driving the couple short hours down to our hotel in Luxembourg.

This trip felt way TOO easy to pack for compared to the 2.5 weeks I was gone in July/August. I keep being sure I've forgotten so many things, but no, everything is there. Uniform, dog food, bowl, crate, mats, etc. All packed and ready!

I will try to post brief updates on Facebook but of course I'm leaving the computer at home. Wish us luck!

My friend pointed out that this looks like a strange "Doo-wop" dance. She's not wrong.


12 August 2014

Post trip blog

Sorry the blog just hasn't been very up to date lately. I've been posting mostly on Facebook, little snippets and tons of photos from the trip (and I'm not even done posting yet!)

Videos from BCC are online at my youtube account, and my EO videos are posted individually here you might have to scroll down to find them.

The trip to Europe this summer was long and fun. First we flew into Munich, spent a night in Salzburg because I've learned that driving too far after a long overnight flight is a super bad idea. Salzburg was pretty but we only spent a couple hours walking around with the dogs to see what we could see without going inside anywhere.





After that we got to the event hotel, where we stayed for 6 nights leading into EO and during it. It was a cute little hotel that also served as a spa with several pools and a weird little rennaisance faire attraction and sports club/hall as well.

Puchner Castle hotel in Hungary, our "home" during EO:


The EO itself was a great event. Very competitive, really fun courses; I felt the judges did a great job of balancing speed with challenges! It was really exciting to make the Final for the 2nd year in a row and run clean, although the final course was just a bit too fast and furious for us and we placed 8th. I was still really thrilled with our run. I guess we just have to figure out how to go faster next year!

After EO me and a couple of friends drove into Budapest to sight see for a few days. Before this trip I didn't know very much about Budapest. It was really a beautiful city! Here's just a few representative pics; I haven't actually finished processing all of the pictures I took yet!








After sight seeing a few days we were off to Slovakia, for the Border Collie Classic!


Again, Strafe and I put in a strong performance, making the Final and running clean, once again not quite speedy enough for the podium but again with a really nice run that made me happy at the end of it. I feel like we are ready for AWC right now, we are running the really tough courses clean more often than not, and always fast enough to be "in the mix" even if we aren't *quite* winning them.

After BCC was over, we drove back across to Munich and flew home, just a week ago. And then this past weekend we were up at AKC World Team Practice in Connecticut! What a great team we have this year, everyone gets along SO WELL and we have so many competitive dogs and great handlers on the team! I am really excited for this event; I've been to IFCS, WAO, and EO (and BCC now!) but never AWC! Looking forward to it - we leave in only 3 and 1/2 weeks!!


15 July 2014

Preparation

Strafe and I leave in only FIVE more days for our big European summer adventure trip. We're flying into Munich because it was the closest relatively affordable direct flight, then stopping to sight see briefly in Salzburg before driving down to Hungary. We're in Hungary at the Team Hotel for the European Open, coming up SO SOON! After that we'll sight see in Budapest for a few days before heading up into Slovakia for the Border Collie Classic. I'm really excited to do 2 big events while I'm over there.


Strafe got a brand new fancy ID tag this year, the first time I've sprung for such a thing! I love it, and it goes with his fancy collar and the charm I got that were both gifts!

I've started packing; hoping to fit everything in one big suitcase and a backpack as carry on. Will probably have to do some laundry at some point but that should be OK.

The weekend after I return I am off to Connecticut for the 2nd AWC Practice, and then that will be basically everything I focus on from there until mid-September. 2014 is a busy year!


Please buy a fan shirt :) The funds go directly to support our AWC Agility Team costs!


30 June 2014

PNW

Strafe and I just got home from a long but fun trip out to the Pacific Northwest. We started out by going to the AWC Team Practice last weekend, which was great. Held at a great facility in Washington, and I think we have a really good team of dogs and handlers this year, despite quite a few new faces to the FCI team (including myself!)

Because one of the Large dogs can't make it to the 2nd practice, we took pictures of them all together for fun, wearing supporter shirts! Be sure to buy a shirt, the funds go directly to supporting the team!

Great photo by Carrie DeYoung!
I wasn't able to bring a bunch of shirts home with me to sell, due to traveling with a carry on size bag for 12 days, but I can probably get an order together if there is interest! Email me if you'd like one!

After practice I got a ride back to a friend's house, where I just chilled and took some nice walks, enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather for a few days.


I admit, I'm coming to really like Washington. I could probably live there and be quite happy.

After a few days there, I took a really short (36minute!) flight down to Portland to teach for 2 and a half days. One of the reasons I like teaching there is that it is one of the very first places I went for an "away" seminar that I had to fly to, and it's fun to come back and see a few of the same people each time.

Meanwhile, I left the girls with a new in-home boarding place; an agility student who lives pretty close by, and has a POOL. The girls were apparently in heaven and didn't miss me at all:

Kiba enjoying a swim

Seri can't believe she is done swimming!
(both photos by Kristin Anderson)
And now I am back home, all 5 dogs back together, tired but happy. One thing I've discovered in recent years is that I really do like to travel, even though it can be pretty stressful at times and being such an introvert (with a few other oddities involved in my brain chemistry as well;) can make it trying to be around people for so long, I really do like it. It's nice to be home and relax and have down time, but by the time a few weeks have passed I'm usually ready to jet off to another new place again.

Right now my next trip is to the European Open! So I'm in final planning stages for that; all the big ticket items are taken care of; flight, rental car, hotel, major sight-seeing is planned. Really looking forward to competing at the EO and the BCC this year, I'm just crossing my fingers that we get reasonably good weather for both events, or at least not so bad that the conditions become dangerous for the dogs (deep mud, etc).

Ven is almost 6 months old now, and he is definitely taller and longer than when I left on this trip! I will get some pics of him in the next few days for his 6 month birthday. He's coming along nicely, and while I see some similarities with Strafe, he is definitely not a clone and is totally his own dog. I anticipate that we will get along just fine though!

In sadder news, Drifter's mother Tera passed away today at the ripe old age of 17. I was watching Drifter rolling around in the field and could hardly believe his 12th birthday will occur later this year. Aside from a few tiny indications, you'd never know he's a senior now, and he's just as naughty and pushy as ever.

Drifter rolling in the field a few weeks ago, enjoying retirement

Drifter at my very first international competition, IFCS 2010 in England

Drifter's mother Tera, photo by Kaitlyn Dreese who ran her in the latter half of her career and loved her dearly.

16 June 2014

qualifying, a title, and an upcoming trip

I've had the last few weeks off from teaching seminars, which is a nice break. Teaching seminars is a lot of fun but also pretty exhausting! And of course it is necessary to attend trials in order to qualify for the national events I like to attend!


So we did some AKC, the past weekends, and both dogs picked up a nice significant chunk of points towards Nationals. I am hoping that the few trials I have left in the calendar for the rest of the year will be sufficient to finish off their qualifications. If it isn't obvious, I've decided to qualify Kiba, she's running really well and feeling good, so even though she'll be 10 years old and Nationals will be really far next spring, I am at least going to get her qualified and then see how she's feeling and figure out the logistics of getting there later on.


The 2 weekends of AKC with the 2 dogs produced 2 MACH titles - first Kiba finished her MACH2, and then this past weekend Strafe finished his MACH. I was amused that someone asked me how many MACH's that was for him, I laughed and said "he's only 3!" - he is, by several years, the youngest dog I've ever put a MACH on. He's pretty consistent, really, but I don't trial a ton and even Strafe and I make occasional mistakes.


I guess you can tell I don't really like pictures of myself posing with the dogs or the judges for titles, huh? I like the pretty ribbons, and I like the pretty dogs :)


I like cool pictures like this, even if I always laugh at the expression on my face (or really anyone's face in the middle of a crazy run - most people have hilarious looks going on)!

This upcoming weekend, in Seattle area, is our very first AWC Team Practice. I am pretty excited about this. After that I'm staying in the area with a friend and then teaching in Portland. That is my last seminar weekend before the big trip...



Ven continues to grow. He's similar to Strafe in so many ways but clearly his own dog, and different in many others. He is definitely what I call "good clay" though - I am sure I can sculpt him into a fabulous agility dog without too much work. His biggest obstacle so far is that he is a bit of a baby if he gets scared of something. Luckily so far there haven't been too many things that really scare him - he's going to trials with me all the time and basically he's only worried about the big fans that move the air. He loves meeting new people and is fabulous hanging out i the car all day. He's currently about 18.5" tall at 5.5 months - I think he's on track to be a nice size, between 20 and 21" when finished.

He also finally has a sit stay good enough to take a group picture. So it isn't professional quality - who cares - but here's all 5 of my current dogs.

Ven (5 months), Strafe (3.5yrs), Seri (almost 8yrs), Drifter (11.5yrs), Kiba (9.5yrs)
And that's basically my blog playing catch up on my life. Even though I have quite a bit of "down time" at home, I still feel like I'm super busy all the time. Traveling and teaching and trialing and then doing laundry to do it all over again!

But then of course Strafe and I are also doing a lot of this; hiking, and he is swimming, we both need to get in great shape for our big events coming up!





And of course now that the weather is no longer arctic, we enjoy hiking! I've been taking just Strafe alone quite often these days, for various reasons, but since we travel alone together I think it is nice to give him some time with just me. The other dogs get to romp in our fields (pictured above) several times a day when the weather is nice.


04 June 2014

PT visit - Good news all around

1. Ven's short stride up front that I wasn't sure was a problem or not - is not a problem, just a funny growth stage.

2. My knee does not present properly as a torn meniscus and seems instead to be due to something called Chondromalacia Patella which should be mostly resolved with targeted strengthening and continued PT.

28 May 2014

All over

I have been traveling rather a lot this year, and yet I have a lot of travel left to do. So far I've been to Cleveland Ohio (several times), Leesburg VA, Tampa FL, Chicago IL, Copenhagen Denmark, London and Birmingham England for Crufts, out to Harrisburg PA for AKC Nationals, Vancouver BC, Seattle area WA, Ontario CA, Minneapolis MN, and finally down to Atlanta GA. Most of this has been for seminars but some of it for competitions. This coming weekend I'm off to Connecticut for another seminar, then I actually have 2 local trials, something I haven't been doing enough of this year. I missed several trials when Strafe was sick and then I was sick too, and added to my busy teaching schedule that leaves us rather behind on qualifying for AKC Nationals. So... off we go to silly local AKC trials, one of which is actually a 3 hour drive out of town with a hotel because it just happened to be a weekend i was home and that is how I have had to plan this year!


In other, less happy news... for the last couple of years, on and off, I've had some vague mild sort of knee pain. This year it's gotten worse. It clicks a lot. It hurts sometimes and sometimes it feels swollen. I can't squat down quickly because it hurts rather a lot, rather suddenly, and I end up sitting on my ass instead of squatting. I can squat down slowly, or I can just kneel on the good side. So yes, what all this adds up to is that I seem to have torn a small part of my meniscus on the left side. So if you see me sporting extensive KT tape or a nice brace, you will know why. I will more than likely end up having to fix it surgically, but I'm going to try managing with PT first; targeted strengthening exercises, and a regimen of NSAIDs, ice, laser, and just plain being careful. If all of that doesn't "fix" the problem, I will look into surgery in late November or December some time since my dogs and I are usually off during that time anyway.

So far running doesn't seem to cause too much pain, but I'm also changing running shoes just in case that helps. It does seem more sore after a day of walking around in my running shoes (which I don't wear for things like hiking and teaching). And I'm still pretty freaking fast, obviously;)

If you haven't seen this video yet, it's pretty cool, and showcases my way-too-big-for-my-size running stride.

BAD DOG AGILITY VIDEO OF STRAFE CHALLENGER RUN

On the puppy front, Ven is doing well, had a minor puppy freak out last week but he's doing great this week. He's a pretty sensitive guy, but seems pretty smart and I still like his structure and temperament. I thought his ears were going up for a while but now they mostly fold to the side, except when he's really really excited they stand up. Also, I'm pretty sure he's taller than Kiba now.



20 May 2014

A good year



Well now the results of Tryouts are in, Strafe and I have been selected to once more be a part of the USA Team for the European Open! (After that, we are also entered in the Border Collie Classic in Slovakia!)

And then the other day we discovered we were ALSO chosen to represent the USA as part of the FCI AWC Team!


We are very excited to compete at the FCI AWC in September! I've been working hard towards that goal for a while now and it's definitely paid off. We have a bit of work to do on a few stupid handling issues we've had, along with a bit of independence on the aframe maybe for those hard turns, and of course primarily Strafe and I both need to continue working towards being in better shape after our super cold winter and then our spring illnesses.

For those not on Ven's blog: he's doing quite well although the training has been slow and spotty due to my schedule. He's growing like a weed and is probably almost 18" tall right now at 4.5 months, I am thinking he will finish up slightly taller than Strafe. He's a pretty soft, sensitive guy but he also learns very quickly and loves to play.



Right now I have some seminars coming up, and I'm in the middle of planning the EO/BCC trip AND the travel to AWC Practice in June AND my trial schedule - due to Strafe being sick then me being sick, we missed a few AKC trials in the spring and Strafe is barely 1/4 qualified for Nationals for next year.


12 May 2014

Tryouts

Brief recap because it feels like so long ago already somehow, and yet we still wait in limbo not knowing who has made which team yet...

All 4 of my runs are posted on my youtube channel, individually, with absolutely no fancy editing. and that's how they'll stay. They're shot from the stands but you can still see what happens for the most part. https://www.youtube.com/user/DKSAgility/videos

The trip to MN went smoothly and we arrived mid-day on Thursday. I like to come in early enough to let myself and Strafe adjust and relax a bit in the new environment before anything important happens. We met friends. Went for a walk. Had lunch. Unpacked. Friday our practice went without incident. Strafe got massaged and a PT check-up. He felt good.

Saturday morning I was sore. I think originally caused by all the coughing, I have some kind of minor strain in a muscle in the lumbar region of my lower back. It isn't awful, but it does hurt some. It definitely hurt Saturday morning. Strafe felt good though. And one little muscle isn't enough to stop me from an adrenalin rush, of course. First course was Jumpers, and looked like a lot of fun. It was easy to come up with a good plan for my dog, and I was confident of our ability to execute it. Strafe rattled the 3rd bar which drew a bit of a gasp from the crowd (it didn't fall) but our total dork moment was later on in the course, after some of the really hard bits (which we mastered), I got just a little too far ahead and when I tried to send Strafe out to the wall jump, he didn't go. He thought I was pulling him past because I was too far down the line already. Oops. Earned 2 refusals and time faults fixing that, but then ran the rest of the course in smooth, stellar fashion as usual, including a front cross to push through the threadle which went very nicely.

Second run on Saturday was the ALMOST clean run. This was a bit of an odd course, to my eye, but still seemed very doable to me and I wasn't all that worried about it, really. Maybe that was the problem! When I released Strafe off the dogwalk I wasn't *quite* pointing at the wing properly in order to tell him it was the backside of the jump, and when I realized he was coming into the front side, I turned slightly and froze in place so he could push out - but he was too close and with the less than amazing grip afforded to him by the surface, he managed to skid to a stop, touching the jump wing in the process. Then he kicked out around the wing and jumped in the correct direction and we continued on the rest of the course clean. When I exited the ring I asked my friend if we had been called on the jump. No. No call? I was a bit confused by the lack of a call since I knew both judges had been very close with a good view of the situation. But I figured it was their call on something like touching a jump - it wasn't as if a bar had fallen and they missed it. This was a more subjective sort of thing. As the class went on, it turned out Strafe had placed 3rd even with the skidding stop and correction. The class finished. Our name was called for the podium picture. Then Carrie DeYoung took me aside (before the ribbons were awarded, obviously) and explained that the judges had gotten together, consulted the FCI rules, and it turns out they had to eliminate us after all. Because Strafe had touched the *wrong side* of the jump, it was considered an off course. So no placement, no clean run, a score of 50 faults instead. Of course I was sad for a few moments, but on quick reflection, I knew he had touched it, so it really was the correct call. So I put on my big girl pants and took it gracefully.

Sunday I really really wanted to win both runs. This is good for me, the pressure. It gets my adrenalin up and keeps me focused. I worked hard, Strafe responded well, and we did it, won both rounds on Sunday! Since we got an E on our Saturday run, this means that every time Strafe has run clean at Tryouts, he has won the class. 2 years in a row. Impressive, if I do say so myself ;) I do wish we'd managed to do better on Saturday, but I can't think that 2 wins out of 4 runs is that bad of a result either. I've got my fingers crossed that we'll soon be planning a trip not only to Hungary for the EO, but also to Luxembourg for the AWC. Currently I have no information to share though, so it's still just hopes and dreams at this point!



After the competition, I had Monday off to go for a walk and then head up to Ham Lake to teach. Since I had a bit of extra time, I visited the Mall of America for the first time. Didn't ride anything since I was on my own and left Strafe in the car, but it was fun to see it anyway.




30 April 2014

Next.

Yes, blog silence followed by a quick succession of posts. It's how we roll.


This morning Ven went in for his 3rd set of Distemper/Parvo shots. I will wait 2 more weeks then do his Rabies, just to avoid stressing his system by doing them at the same time.


This morning I got the email from the airline and checked in for my flight to Minneapolis tomorrow morning. 


I am really excited about Tryouts this year. I have been doing agility for 21 years, and while "AKC World Team" was not even in existence yet when i started, and then was not of interest to me for a while after it did exist, it has been a dream of mine to be on that team for the last probably 8 to 10 years now. This is my 4th year attending Tryouts, and Strafe's 2nd time.


Last year Strafe won 3 of the 5 classes, but I did not sign up to try out for the FCI AWC Team, and so of course we did not make it. This year I did sign up - I would love to travel to Luxembourg as part of the AKC FCI Team this year. I think we have a good chance of making it but of course I would never be ridiculous and jinx us by saying "of course we'll make it!"


I am FINALLY over my ridiculously long on and off coughing illness. Strafe has been off his antibiotic for about 3 weeks now and is eating very well and looking and feeling great. We are READY.


I have packed most of my clothes, a mat and a pop-up crate for Strafe, my running shoes. We leave early in the morning for an 8:30am flight from BWI.


And so we are off on the beginning of what will hopefully be our next 2 adventures: EO and AWC. Wish us luck!
 I am staying in Minnesota after Tryouts to teach for 3 days, so we will actually be gone for a week, which is why my suitcase is a bit larger than usual;) Today will be spent teaching my morning class, then preparing to send Seri and Kiba off to their temporary homes for the week I am gone, and last minute packing preparations. Then we are off!