Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon…er, Now.

So, anybody got an intact male that wants to make some cute mixed breed babies?

Specifically, half Border Staffy babies?

Because The Pup totally can do that now. 


Insert Frowny Face Emoticon here.

My little Pup (who is so totally mortified that I’m going public with this BTW) came in. To season. ALREADY.  She’s only nine months old!!! And she’s all scrawny and stunted since I’m trying to keep her undersize!!  (Ok, not really. But she is very much like the little gymnasts you always hear about- you know, how physically delayed THEY are.)  

Does this mean she is done growing?

That might be one good point.

Anyways though, I knew this was coming… while she hasn’t been total bitch fest like The Dog was in advance of her 'special time,' she certainly was making her Baby Seal Face more.  And she barfed the other day.  Not that THAT tells us anything, but I still totally knew it was coming soon.

At least it happened before and not AT the show this weekend- now we can prepare to keep her hidden away like they do in other cultures (unlike here where people want to like, openly celebrate it… Woo hoo? Life’s greatest inconvenience has arrived 

Wondering now if it isn’t time to start kicking around a new moniker for the little lady…can she still be ‘The Pup’ at this point? We are open to suggestions.  I don’t want her to be all ridiculous like Lil’ Wayne, who is what, 100 now? and he still goes by Lil’

The other question is do I wait now for another cycle or try to spay her in the next few months?  I was just all excited because there is an AKC show set for about three days after she turns 15 months, but that would be exactly 6 months from now. Who knows if she will be an ‘on schedule’ girl or not?  I mean, she’s already messing with me.  Is it still popular to wait two cycles?  One side of the mushroom will make you grow taller, while the other will make you grow smaller and all that. Sigh.
As I said, show this weekend where we remember how to run USDAA before the Nationals. Er, World Games. 

Full day of ALL tournaments on Friday. That will be unique and exhausting. But the hosts ply us with strudel. The best on the planet.  

This is why we do agility shows after all, right?

For the killer strudel. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sometimes on Mondays I occasionally think about stuff.

So once upon a time a certain presenter used to frequent MN for seminars.   This event was our once yearly butt-kicking Big Exposure to new agility trends and ideas.  It was where I first was forced to try front crosses. So…awkward!!  In fact, I used to spend most of the weekend tied up in awkwardity (totally should be a word, no?) so I really don’t remember much more than being all cold and scared outside of my box.   But when my mom recently mentioned something this presenter once said, a dull bell rang in the back of my mind. 

It was something to the effect of a dog not being worth much until they were 5 or 6. 

When you hear it, it sounds not very nice. If I did consciously hear it at the time, I probably dismissed it anyways because I was young and it sounded dumb to me then.  Certainly knowing Young Me, I wouldn’t like it because it was just, like, another case of, like, old people not giving youth the credit it so TOTALLY deserved.   Like. But I think I get it now. 

Of course, she only meant as a competitive partner. She didn’t mean baby dogs were worthless in general.  She admitted you could see some brilliant flashes from a baby dog.  But she said it with the context of yeah, a young dog has the ‘flash’- speed and extra bendy agility aspects- but they don’t have the head. You don’t have the relationship.  It’s referring to those things that take nothing but time, no matter the training, to surface.

For me, I’ve always been amazed at the fresh teams with young dogs that can pull off a Big Flashy Win.  Whaddaya MEAN they’re only two? WOWOW!  But I’m at the point now where consistency is much more impressive. I lean away from the draw of a one-hit wonder. Who really remembers the Proclaimers or Right Said Fred anyways?

I guess I’m mentioning it now because despite the difficult beginning years with The Dog which I've spent wishing for her to be one of ‘those’ flashy cool babies I would so rather have the adult I can depend on.  I don’t think we are quite there yet but there is something moving to the surface. I can see the partner I will end up with and I’m pretty sure it will be worth the flash to have a slow burn. 

(And because a post without media is somehow not as fun, here are her standard runs from our last show.  Plus they are what got me started in thinking about this...)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thank You…Someone!

Not sure if I should thank the club or the judges, so we will go with both. THANKS, BOTC and Judges DAN BUTCHER and DAVID MANCINO!

I was REALLY looking forward to running some of Dan Butcher’s courses. I’ve seen them around; he seems to enjoy throwing in little (and big) curves at competitors. Comments I’d seen and heard ranged from “fun” to “deranged” so I knew we’d be in for a good time.  And let’s face it, I do like AKC, but if I had to do one more weekend of Excellent courses with jumping sequences comprised of only 90 degree turns and straight lines The Dog and I were going to fall asleep mid-run. (Well, probably not her so much. She doesn’t love those pinwheels but she’s a sucker for a long line of jumps.)

I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, even was pleasantly surprised as the other judge also brought intriguing courses with too.

(OK, so I was a LITTLE disappointed when we didn’t get any backside jump approaches but I can learn to forgive.)

Honestly though, the first course we walked put a smile on my face right away (270...yayyyy!!) and that smile just kept growing all weekend long.  Fun courses! Challenging! Different! Engaging! Ahhhh…. Nice. Better than cake. 

Normally, this alone would be enough to make it a good show weekend.  Period. End of post.  But The Dog… she was just… Amazing.  Literally? Perfect. I can’t believe I can say that.  I don’t have much to dissect about our runs.  The little ‘room for improvement’ things seem so very insignificant in light of the one thing that was there and present and perfect all weekend: connection.  Same page-ness. Whatever you want to call it.  I was there to run fast and have fun and she was too.  Consistently in tune, being a team.  Ahhhh… Nice. Way better than cake.

I have three favorite things:  Her happy, wild-eyed starts in every class (wild eyes are a really good sign!), her dogwalk on the first day, and her flawless JWW run in the first class.  JWW Qs usually end up in one of three camps: technically perfect but slower, fast but slow weaves, or fast but with China turns.  I can’t really say what it meant to have that run without any buts, but it was a lot.  
I did also have the fun bonus of running a Very Good BC Boy too. I LOVE running other people’s dogs.  It did not go very well, I felt bad that I didn’t adapt more quickly to his honest running style (handler errors... so many!!).  Hopefully his mom just gets a kick out of letting him play for the experience?  But he was a lot of fun and I appreciated the opportunity.  I got to try out the concept of ‘crocodile calls’ on his last run.  The idea (Jenny Damm I think) is that if there is an off course call-off opportunity, you better be calling your dog as if there was a gaping maw of a crocodile sitting there on the off course obstacle looking to nom your dog.  The Dog usually only needs Fuzzy Bunny with Slightly Sharp Buck Teeth calls but I had to employ some big scary croc calls with the VG BC Boy and they really worked- I think my voice was quite urgent enough to communicate the importance of staying on course (which is the whole idea- to get your voice to that crucial ‘I mean it FOR REAL’ state. Much like the old school ‘Rape Call’ but with a cuter visual when it comes to the necessary imagery).   
Poor Pup. Relegated once again to the back of the blog.  I really can’t wait to start showing her.  And she can’t wait either. She’s starting to get really mad about not getting a turn at trials.  I bet it will be an unholy disaster-especially if there are flowers or long tendrils of grass at the side of the ring- but it will be quite entertaining.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


In two weeks, The Pup will be 9 months old!  9 MONTHS!

¾ of a year!

(Right? Can someone please proof the math for me?)

Anyways, the poor little mutt has been lurking in the shadows as an outlier in Blog Land recently, so I thought I’d give her some focal print time.  
The BIG news (and you’re going to soon see that not much has been going on here recently) is that she has finally given herself over to her desires. (No, she’s NOT knocked up… but there are a few handsome BC boys out there she’d be HAPPY to propagate the species with…) 

You see, whenever a hose comes out, she tries to behave like a proper dog and run away, or act all affronted if she should get sprayed.  She’s been known to scream bloody murder at the slightest trickle touching her delicate toes (although that might just be because she enjoys screaming bloody murder and does it 100 times a day for funsies).   But I’ve noticed that while she acts annoyed and bothered by the hose, she always gives it these sly, curious looks when she thinks I’m not watching. Lately they’ve turned downright beseeching.   It was SO obvious to me that it was all a front, but she just wouldn’t admit to herself that the one thing she REALLY wanted was to
The other day it finally happened. I was trying to spray the outdoory gunk off the equipment and the dogs were out in the yard with me playing with a toy.  They’d already both made a great appearance of being highly annoyed by the hose’s presence and had gone to ridiculous lengths to avoid the path of the spray. 


All of a sudden, this little white flash enters my periphery; it slashes in front of me, cutting through the spray mid-air.  I see it stop and spin back and realize that it’s The Pup.  Joy and Rapture are registered on her face. 

It’s a pretty special moment for her, I can tell.  Self-actualization, catharsis, destiny… all rolled into the coils of that hose. 

And. She. Didn’t. Stop. 

I don’t know how much water actually hit the equipment after her moment of weakness because it had to go through her face first.   Oh well.  Clearly it was the highlight of her little life so far. Who am I to deny her? 

And it was adorable.  Video:
On the training front- well, we’ve done little training.   She’s still managed to learn how to scale a fence and how to do a vertical leap onto a table from a stand still.  Good dog?

We did a little practice the other day though- she was pretty awesome and drivey.  I say ‘pretty awesome’ because she had one giant ADHD moment where I ended up punting her five feet. Why? Because the wind kicked up a big leaf and she had to run across my path to chase it.  Sigh.

Other than THAT she was a good girl.  It was the first time working without a fence and she did great with being loose.  We did a bit of contact/tunnel discrimination and I determined that she has none.  She seems to use slats to distinguish the teeter from the dogwalk which was really good information for me (slatless dogwalk equaled perfect ‘4 on’ at the top of the on ramp… then one big look on confusion when she figured out she was still in the air).   We practiced on a ‘new’ teeter and she was phenomenal.  She slid it for the first time in awhile (the last time she did it, it freaked her out a tad) and this time she seemed to think that idea ROCKED because she kept doing it with her ‘yeehaw’ face.

I figured out as well what I need to do to get drive out of turns; despite the cik/cap work we’ve done since she was a fetus she still thinks turns are lame EXCEPT, I now know, when she is rewarded after with a contact. So now we practice our wraps with incentive to drive out to a contact  It’s also helping her with commitment to the jump- no jump, no contact.  HA! Outsmarted you for once, you little minx!
Oh, hah, one more thing. Since she’s been such a nice girl recently, I decided to see if she would be able to sleep out last night.  I removed everything she could get into and The Dog and I set a good example by getting into bed and not moving. 

Yeah, after ten minutes of her sniffing everything and alternating jumping on my face and barking at The Dog to play we decided she was not QUITE ready.  Maybe in another 9 months we will try that again. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Introducing… Practice Dog!

One of my longest running, most basic goals has been to get the Dog I run with in practice to show up at shows.  Consistently.  She’s shy… like Punxsutawney Phil. Sometimes she peeps out for a run or two, maybe even a whole day, but I don’t usually have the pleasure of her company for an entire weekend.  

And for an entire three-day show? Pfff.  Fogedaboudid.

I’ve said it before though, that girl usually ends up surprising me.
This past weekend was the MAC 3- day, the last outdoor show of the year for us. All three tournaments plus the full load of Master’s classes.   The Dog had 16 runs and in every last one she was… herself. Her REAL self.  Practice Dog!

Why now? I dunno.  The weather was AWESOME, that probably helped. The courses were really fun and engaging, so that was a plus.  I’m sure the work with training for food and making practice more like a show setting had something to do with it too.  I’ve been trying O so hard not to worry about her though.  And I didn’t this weekend. At all.  Que sera, sera and all that.  

Hm. I guess we’ll just have to go with a multitude of contributing factors, eh?

Anyways though, 16 runs, so obviously time for a mega mix montage recap:
13/16 clean runs
One naughty pants off course (Grand Prix of course, why wouldn’t that curse continue?)
3 bars down (2 mine, must remember to stay clear of the takeoff zone; one hers, lazy feet into chute)
Two really missed dogwalks
Zero missed Aframes
Happy teeters all over the place
50/50 for weaves (one missed exit, flippy flopping between fast and slow performances)
Placement in most classes
Silver Standard title thinger
An unprecedented TWO clean Steeple rounds, finished up 2012 qualifiers for that
Team qualifier checked off for 2012 as well
#2 for 22” dogs in Team for the day.

The absolute BEST part was that for the first time The Dog ACTUALLY RAN SOME DOGWALKS!!!                For REAL! IN PUBLIC!  She started out day one AMAZINGLY, offering a running performance in every class.  Yeah, she super missed one of them bailing off the side but that was unavoidable at this point because of where we are in training (had to baby-sit a safe entry and was REALLY far behind).   Subsequent days were much more hit or miss. I think the reversed schedule on day two resulted in some tiredness on her behalf by the time she had to do one and I know she won’t really run them if she’s at all tired. Day three was a little worse but the course designs were much less friendly than day one for sure AND there was undoubtedly some more tiredness.   But I don’t care. She did it, she can do it again, and it’s getting there!! I’m so proud. When I watched the video I pretty much cried.

…I can’t believe my happiness is that tied to a hunk of metal, wood and rubber…

Here’s the montage of dogwalks I managed to get recorded (again, sorry, no kicky 80’s montage music):

The second best part would be all her terrific standard runs.  We’ve been working SO HARD on bringing together a whole course in practice.  Even the Grand Prix run was stellar aside from the part where the curse touched us.  Both of her regular standard and Team runs were fast and happy and included all the elements I’m looking for- nice weaves, non sticky contacts, and an auto drop on the table where applicable.  I see room for time improvement on some turns, but it’s so nice to see her digging in and having fun.  (Hmmm… probably why the turns were wide to begin with… I was watching the pretty doggie having a good time playing!)
Some standard runs…

OK, the for real best part was how much fun she had.  I enjoy seeing my happy dog. Sometimes she looks like she’s going to barf when we go to the line.  But this weekend, when she got going, whatever was on her little furry mind sort of melted off.  And whenever we finished she ran over to me like “OMG!!! Did you see that, I am awesomeness, HIGH FIVE!” Yes, Dog, you are total awesomeness!
BTW, The Pup would like everyone to know that although it sounded like it, she was not being brutally and repeatedly axe-murdered this past weekend. That was called CHEERING, haven’t you ever heard of CHEERING???  Psh. Philistines.