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.


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


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.