Monday, October 31, 2011

Dogs So Good, It’s Scary!

In honor of Halloween, the girls decided to try and shock me to death with their awesomeness.  They almost succeeded!  This was a weekend of firsts.

Requisite Halloween picture- NOT the first... or last!
The first ‘first:’

The Pup ran in her first fun match!

It was adorable.  Video (Disclaimer:  video taken by nice stranger unfamiliar with iPhone camera location, please excuse the finger ghost at the top of the screen, and also the terrible lighting):

I won’t lie; I had no clue if she’d run away, or visit the people milling around in the ring, or sniff the new place… in fact I was pretty sure she’d try at least ONE of those out.  But I was wrong, The Pup was great!  All her contacts were solid and she stayed on track.  I proved to have some lame handling at the end (I was out of gas after running The Dog already just minutes before) and she responded (like a good girl) by following me rather than going to a few obstacles.  (Shame on me too, didn’t I just admit that tunnels are weak as far as sending?) She ran around the teeter too by way of inspection; it was the first she’d encountered without an obvious base/pivot.   After we ran the little course, we did go back to the jump-teeter and tried the end again and the second time through she was perfect and had an amazing teeter and dogwalk.   

So I learned that she likes playing more than I anticipated, and that she really needs me to give 110% on drive and focus.  NO cutting corners or general laziness!

I also learned that agility is the secret to creating Perfect Pup. Perfect Pup will go lay down by herself without being placed suggestively in her crate.  She will chew a bone instead of the walls.  She will sleep instead of bark at The Dog.  Amazing!

So her chosen sleeping place is under a table... I see no issue!

We of course went to the fun match mostly for The Dog. There is an AKC trial at that site at the end of November so I wanted more exposure to the dogwalk in advance of that.  She nailed all the dogwalks we tried, though was a bit flighty on her attention- or maybe I was being too lazy there too? I wouldn’t put it past me. 

Just in case it was me, when we went to the USDAA show yesterday I set the goal of handling The Dog like I would The Pup (when not exhausted).  Trust her, but no cutting corners and absolute attention to my cues.  Since we’ve been a bit off recently it was pretty important to re-establish our prior Avatar-like connections.
We started with Grand Prix, since I elected not to enter Jumpers in the early morning.  The dogwalk entries and exits for all three classes we were to run were terrifying, but Grand Prix took the cake as worst since there were issues with both the on and off.  I hemmed and hawed and decided it was either going to happen or not, but probably not if I did anything weird so enter that little Trust thing I mentioned.

Frankly, though I knew we could technically do it, I had very little expectation for a Q in Grand Prix.  The course played to none of our strengths.  It was really very Anti-Dog.  But off we went to make a go of it. 

The dogwalk was at the start: entry a wrap from a tunnel underneath, exit a pull to a far offside tunnel, with the wrong entry staring the dogs in the face about five steps away.   Imagine my shock when she a) wraps tightly and accelerates from the dead stop onto the dogwalk into a run, b) nicely hits her down contact without leaping, c) pulls easily off the wrong tunnel and d) finds the correct side without hitting a tunnel bag. I think I yelled GOOD DOG but I may have just stood there slack jawed for a minute. Eventually I remembered to keep running and we finished up clean. Hooray for our first 2012 GP Q!

The gooey delicious icing on the cake?  She won! She had a scary good time too. So we got a bye as well, our first!  Oh curses for not having video, it felt absolutely wonderful but I wish I could see it! 
Seconds later she tried to eat the Bye. Oops.
Standard was next, the same exit on the DW, the entry was straight on, but with the first obstacle actually pointing at that naughty tunnel still sitting there so it proved pretty difficult.  The Dog chose wisely and had an even better dogwalk.  I let her run all the way off before calling so it was a bit dicier getting the tunnel but she listened really well, again getting the correct side without hitting the tunnel bags!! (Can you tell this is an issue for her?)

It was a really nice run; the place that I didn’t run in a crystal clear way I caused a bar.  I’m grateful for the reminder to not be lazy!  She was really awesome on her weaves and teeter, though naughty slow drop on the table and did some obstacle shopping at the end (“I can do DW again???).  Even with that, she had the best time at least so still happy.

We ended on Pairs with Diva Black Dog. The Dog needs Pairs for her Silver ADCH so it was my goal for the day.  Oddly, when choosing sides I stuck Diva with the side less friendly to her and took the evil DW half for the Dog because I couldn’t pass up the challenge.  So much for playing it safe! 

Not only was it a terrible DW exit (pull off a dead-on jump to a 90 degree turn, then an awkward send through a box), but it was an awful weave entry (for us) which required babysitting and potentially getting behind for the DW.  The Dog nailed the weaves and I took a millisecond to shoot her in the tunnel before bolting to the end of the DW. I don’t think I bothered to see if she took the tunnel OR the DW, so I am really glad she did! All that mattered was me beating her down for a pivot to the correct jump and I DID!  And she had a great DW contact! Then she saved me on the box and Diva Black Dog did her half like the champ she is.  Totally vindicated for not playing it safe.  One down, two to go!
In sum, dogwalks are now our beotch.

The dogs are awesome.

It’s Halloween.

That’s really all there is to say about that!
Closing Monday Humor:

Apparently my spot on the bed is a hot commodity.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pupdate 10.0!

My baby is ten months old. 

It’s not as bad as nine months.

Ten months sort of seems more like a ‘fun age.’  The age I’ve been waiting for.

You see, for a small-medium puppy, ten months means that the fun can REALLY start. I think it’s safe to say she’s done growing so now we can get to work on the last few elements of training.


Weave poles!!!

So I know I initially said I wanted to train channels, no wires.  But I hit a wall where I wasn’t able to crank them any tighter because of her age. And now that she’s old enough, its basically winter and there is no place to work channels every day.  And believe me, I don’t want to wait until spring to start the long process of teaching channels.  Magic solution?


I was very… thbbbbtttt about the thought of teaching this method.  But knowing what I know now about The Pup’s food-drive, and that she prefers challenges and shaping to repetitive muscle memory tasks it seems that 2x2s are the best method for her. 

I decided to go with MEB’s method of 2x2s, a slight derivation of Susan Garrett’s.  You can see MEB’s method here.   The main differences that I see are that the poles are always in line (not opened up for an easier approach) and that it’s less um… particular. There are some dos and don’ts but it made more sense to me and less like a ticking time bomb of failure if you didn’t do EVERYTHING exactly as prescribed.

So we started last night and boy, do I like being right. The Pup was much more into it than she ever was with the channels.  She caught on right away and after we raised the bar from ‘any offered pole passing behavior gets the cookie’ to ‘correct entry only’ she never offered anything but criteria.  She was even an angel about running back without back weaving.  But the best part was how fun it was for both of us.
So that’s it, that’s the last element to her obstacle training. 

However, now we go back and start filling in the outlines.  For the progress record (that was the basic point to the blog, so sorry if lists are not the most gripping text I could share):

Tunnels:  Good drive to and from (better from).  Needs some work on committing; she will turn back in an ‘are you sure’ manner if there is a cross before. 

Chute:  If Marvin awaits her at the exits, awesome. No Marvin…eh…  sometimes she forgets that she must burrow through.  Work in progress.  Probably the weakest obstacle now.

Tire: Awesome!  Really good about going through the circle, hasn’t discovered going under or around (jinx?).  Will seek the tire from any angle.

Table: Also awesome! Very nice auto drop and will stay for a 5 count.  I can move around, run past and send, but I can’t circle her yet.  She likes to follow me around (though at least tries to remain down then?).

Jumps:  Nice at 12”, working on 14”.  Not ready for anything more yet.  Solid on lines, angles and pinwheels, pretty good sends and commitment, NICE wraps and post turns. Backside annoys her.  I plan on doing a lot more one jump work this winter to start putting commands to the maneuvers and keep her motivation up for jumping in general (though it’s been really building on its own funnily enough. Hmm.)

Teeter: Love her performance now.  Drives through the tip and has a true understanding of the 4 on.  She will stick it if I run past or cross or drop all the treats everywhere (oops).  Sends to it very well.  Might be her favorite thing, close call between teeter and table.

Aframe:  She’s still working out how she’s doing this.  I have Marvin out for most reps still; when he is there she thinks less about what she’s doing, in a good way. She doesn’t do scary boingings over the apex anymore with him there either so, phew!  Without him she has the tendency to rock back much more and take more small steps. Not bad, but not running like she can. 

Dogwalk:  PERFECT with Marvin.  Fast and good extension.  She needs more exposure to different dogwalks at this point, finding entry from angles, and continual work on fading Marvin.  When it’s dogwalk into a tunnel I get a pretty close performance to Marvin, but to nothing I can beat her. She has still yet to leap though.  That makes me happpeeeee.

Hmmm, if I forgot anything, someone had better tell me!
As for what it’s like to run now… mmmm… better than cupcakes.  She figured out quite recently that there is no “I” in “Team” and it feels like we are working together now.  Her agility switch is officially on. 

Like I mentioned, I started her this week in classes. She was a star!! Quite loud and obnoxious, as promised, while waiting to go but focused and brilliant for her turns.   I admit, when we first started doing obstacle work and handling groundwork I really didn’t see how she was going to end up with the running speed and style I wanted.  But now… my baby is fast! AND smart!  
And in life…well, she’s grown up there too.  I’d never thought I’d say this, but she can sleep out now!!  All of a sudden, she turned into bedtime snuggle pusher.  As soon as I am in bed, she’s there squishing up in a little Pup ball next to me.  And there she sleeps, the whole night. 

Still a holy terror during waking hours though.  Some things never change. Why o why did I teach a dog to be so explorative?  No cupboard is safe. 

That’s it! Ten months, in a nutshell (though it’s a big huge hazelnut shell I guess). 

Because you can’t post without mentioning The Dog, here is The Dog in her new PINK Thundershirt. No, not scared of thunder, just anxious about life.  What can I say? The Dog needs a big pink hug. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Post Apocalyptic Agility

Ok it’s happened. I think I finally need therapy!  I've had the strangest agility dream ever.

While it isn’t unusual for me to dream about post apocalyptic societies or agility, it’s rare that the two combine.

I mean, I thought the dream where I was running at the Nationals staged in a fiery Zombieland was relatively normal in comparison- the worst part about THAT dream was that my teammates totally blew the relay final. 

So anyways, we are at Cynosports and its being held at this crazy square building on a military base in a barren, remote location and then it was suddenly World War 3- bombs flying, huge planes coming and going. Total chaos (and of course we are still running). Then it got weird. So, we are at the USDAA Nationals. But it’s really the World Games, see? So USDAA is actually revolting against the USA… and siding with the world stage?  So it’s rebels and Japanese and some people from Mexico, etc. And most of us are banding together in packs to fight off the onslaught and then all of a sudden all the people on the AKC World Team are putting on their Red, White and Blue uniforms and turning on the USDAA supporters! And then they let the American Government in and woo boy. It was all over pretty quick. It wasn’t so bad though, being captured. I mean, Karen Holik was nice; she helped get me medicine for my injuries and I was being marched off to the internment camp.

What does it MEAN??

I must be feeling more subconsciously conflicted than I thought about wanting to do more AKC in the next few months?  

Or my first theory- totally losing it.
But we had a nice lazy (read: recuperative) weekend involving no agility and very little training.  The dogs are both bored and hate me now so that’s the end of that. I suppose it’s time to get back into it again- veerryyyy slowly though. Don’t want to pull anything. We’ve got one half day of showing this weekend (in search of elusive GP and pairs Qs!), then THE FIRST SEMINAR with The Pup (EEK!) the following weekend, then an out of town USDAA show (again, elusive GP and Pairs Qs), then AKC at the end of November and beginning of December.  

To prepare, I’m even going to start heading to class again for the first time in months, this time though with BOTH dogs. I’m excited (nervous) to see how The Pup handles it on an on-going basis.  While I don’t love taking group classes, I need to not always run my own sequences and get both dogs working happily around distractions and when I am annoyed (though The Pup will be the annoying, distracting one in HER class so that will be a fun change!).  Also winter here really limits getting on equipment so there is some necessity if we ever want to see a dogwalk again (though I REALLY hope The Dog is past the need for twice daily reps…).   Though the table and a jump fit well in the living room so we can keep drilling happy table (which hasn’t happened since last winter, oops) and cik/cap turns! The Dog remembers it really well from all our work last spring though she did try and hug the standard the first dozen or so times.  While I’m still not sure I’ll use it with The Pup it really can’t hurt (and admittedly she probably does need work on driving out of turns joyfully since I recently discovered her hated of decelerating).
Our one thing we did over the weekend was take a nice walk on probably the last gorgeous day of the year.   We went to a popular park filled with people and screaming children, partly because it’s huge and purty so kinda worth it but also partly because I’m putting The Dog into those icky loud situations when I can so she can learn to deal. She got her ball and was mostly happy. 

Attempts at cute dog posing:

Mostly giant fails since THE PUP WILL NOT LOOK AT ME!!

She is always staring off at…something?

At least she didn’t run away.

More than once.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Jumps Attack and Other Scary Things

As promised (warned?) here are some of the gazillion pictures taken over the course of as many days spent at Cynosport. 

First, RV livin':
Sweet sleepy girl.
Can you believe it, no posing for this one:
Head tilt!
I think it was good enough for 
White Dog the Pig reckons herself an awesome kitchen assistant.

Only one pepper was harmed in the making of this dinner:
Hungry piggy!
The Pup is still working on her Pig status. 
Pleez push nom closer, can't reeach!
And then of course there were all the BS Reunion/Smackdown pictures. 

I don't quite know what is wrong with my dog's face in all these pictures. But I can easily see how she came to sprain her jaw after sorting through...
Pirate impression? Argh matey? 
Sadly, there were about 20 shots of her doing this. Mean sister! 
Though she still looks pretty sweet with a hunk of Sister in her mouth...
Sister's fighting style is um, bodily

And then meeting Brother Crime for the first time as big kids. 

He liked them a lot. As in REALLY liked his sisters. 

So much love. 

A sweet Angel who would NEVER try to eat her siblings:

And as if that wasn't enough, we threw in all the OTHER sibs too! 

Handsome older brothers:

The Pup LOVES this particular brother. Until two days later when she tried to eat him. Oh wait, she would never do that?

A swarm! 

And of course, a requisite clone picture. 

So anyways, after a little hiatus we went to practice last night before the classes I teach. The Dog was back to her normal amazing self; even a bit improved since her Aframe was all kinds of awesome.

I couldn't resist setting up a small portion of one of the courses at the WC- the section on the Agility course where the A entry was hugged on both sides by the tunnel, with a wicked approach. She nailed it; in fact, was a veritable genius regarding all kinds of discrimination. Now, naturally, I want to punch myself for worrying so much about that Team Snooker course. Live and learn. 
The Pup was the one that REALLY blew me away. I told her to study a certain Border Staffy VERY carefully while we were in Kentucky and I guess she did! Or she just really missed her time to play. 

There was even a fun class happening next door and she stayed focus on me the whole time. 

Not too shabby for my little ADHD baby.  
She was very fast and into jumping more than before so I took advantage to start working offset lines with her and other interesting jump formations. She was great! I love to see her actively searching for jumps, since she prefers actively searching for me more. 

I ended up running her on the same sequences as The Dog. I learned that she largely prefers me to stay out of her path- front cross are ok as long as don't squash her speed or in the case of wraps. Wraps are allowed. Overall though, she seems to prefer a very subtle side change. 

I think it's a good thing? 

Because she wants to keep running and not slow down?

Good, right? 

So just a different form of path management. 

Whatever it is, its very cute. 

I do love my genius baby! 

And I love how baby dogs keep you so honest in your handling. 

No matter what The Dog feels about The Pup, she will thank her in the long run when I remember to run clearly and not stand there with my arms pointed all directions like a sign at a fork in the road...
Oh, and a jump kicked my butt yesterday. 

No, not when I was running. 

I was standing there, directing clean up.

I was holding a jump wing casually.

Then all of a sudden, down on to it I fall. 

Did it trip me? Decide to collapse? 

Use tae kwon do take down tactics? 

I don't know. All I know is that is smacked my face (bloody fat lip today!), bashed my knee (looks like I'm hiding ostrich eggs under my patella!) and the metal jumps cups left a bruisy, scratchy trail down my other leg.   

Today I feel like I was in a car accident!

It totally kicked my butt. 

So if you see me in the next few days... NO, it wasn't The Pup!! I SWEAR- THIS TIME SHE IS INNOCENT!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cynosport Travel Dictionary, 2011 Edition: Unexpected

The Travel Dictionary defines “Unexpected” as pertaining to that which happened that you would have never, ever thought of in all the pre-game scenarios.

As in, that was REALLY unexpected.
You think you know The Dog, and then she throws you more loops. More!  We’ve got more loops here than a cable knit sweater.

Before I get into the analysis too far, let’s first congratulate our well-deserving travel companions:  Black Dog was an amazing baby, making it all the way to Finalist Status in BOTH the Steeplechase AND Grand Prix where she had a lovely clean run for an 11th place finish out of a bazillion 22” dogs originally entered.  She was a real star (really, she claims full Diva Status now).   White Dog was White Dog and may have been the Aframe-hating butthead we know and love, but was her good reliable self all week. Her team finished 4th out of 174 teams, their best finish yet!  The Dog’s third teammate, BFAM, did really well too- especially in the team classes- so he earned Team VID (Very Important Dog!) for sure.  Lots of MN teams ended up in various final events (and some even ended up on the World Team!) so it was overall a successful week for our frigid state.  I’m really proud of you all, and I hope you heard my cheers, you earned it!
And then there was The Dog.  

So I think I left off after the warm up day, before Gamblers ran.  We had the advantage (really?) of waiting all day to run.  It was a terrible design- I really hated the time penalty premise and the fact that the on course gamble was weaves, again.  But we ran, The Dog did the weaves, and so we moved to the other on course gamble which we blew as The Dog blew past the last obstacle. Then the whistle blew while I tried to save it. Bye bye points!! Sigh.  28 seconds of well, blowing.   I was happy she did her weaves but couldn’t believe how badly she missed my cue. Very unusual move for her.

The next day was Steeple QF and Team Standard.   I got her out and headed to the big arena with her for the first time.  

Where she promptly melted.

She didn’t want to walk around the rings- she kept diving for the exits. She didn’t want her treats. Her eyes were popping at everything but I could barely get her to look at me.  When it came time for our turn in Steeple, she wouldn’t go into the ring.  She came with me at some point, after hiding behind the partition, but then didn’t want to leave the line.  She did run eventually, but was not herself.  A bar down clinched it- no semis for us again.  More concerning to me though was where did that come from?

I took her to get checked out on the chance that there was some physical reason- she did have a sore back and a large lump on a muscle in her knee- but I knew it was more than that. 

Team Standard sometime later (in the other, emptier building) was better. I spent 20 minutes playing tug with her before our run outside and waited until they called for me to get on the line before we went in the building.  Her immediate start wasn’t great but we did survive and she was pretty happy once she got to do the Aframe and a tunnel.  I was still left thinking a lot after that day.
She is such a sensitive dog; I could only guess that the atmosphere was overwhelming her.  It was extremely intense by the main ring- crabby people, high dogs, everything was buzzing.  After that day I decided not to crate her in the main area anymore and instead kept her in the RV whenever I could.  I also switched to the ball for warm ups and kept her away from the bustle of the crowds before our runs by hiding on the stairs or in the stands.  After some serious shaping we got to the point where she would head up pretty willingly but she never really looked herself on the start lines in the main arena the whole week (where the rest of our classes were).  There was a lot of zoning out and for all the runs the first 4-5 obstacles were pretty rough. 

I can really only describe it as feeling extremely disconnected from her.   This was kind of how it felt when we first started showing. I felt barely on the edge of her consciousness- like something else was on her mind.  And it showed a lot- besides those unfocused starts, we had an off-course almost every class.   The two clean runs we had still had that fuzzy, unplugged feeling and I think we made it through based solely on the type of course (and a nice judge) as my path was forced to be in front which made it impossible for her not to notice me.   

It was pretty similar to the Regional too I guess. Not on the same scale, but I think the loud and crazy is just not for her yet.  It took her a long time to enjoy training, to enjoy trialing and to enjoy traveling.  This is only her third big event and by far the craziest.  My hope is that she can enjoy this type of setting as well, but it will probably take time.
Good things…hm… I am proud of her for trying.  She was clearly unhappy in the facility so anything she gave me was just because she’s a good girl. When we got going, she tried to run fast (probably why there were Es this year and not last year- she was moving quicker). Certain things held up which I really didn’t think would survive a whole week.  She had fantastic weaves actually; I think she has missed 22” poles.  She hated the slow tip teeter to start but really accustomed to it well and started charging through the tip (eventually getting a fly-off! Good girl!! never thought she’d be that brave).  In fact, she had really nice contacts all week.  For being the Year of the Contact Calls even (they were down there with microscopes!), she didn’t miss one.   There were four dogwalks this week of varying difficulty and she ran them all. Legitimately.  As in, really truly running like we trained. The most difficult set up for her was the GP QF: it had a bad entry as far as no speed into it, was on my right and exited into nothing really, with the tire off to the side.   She totally rocked it with great acceleration on the descent.   And that was her other clean run, so we did at least get to play in the semis for GP (on that one I completely failed to manage her DW exit correctly and lost her right after that). 
So now what? I feel really bad about Team, but who saw this coming?  All I can do is continue to expose her to things like this- chaos and noise- and make it fun.   I almost wonder if it isn’t time to get her into flyball.  What’s louder and crazier than that? 

Training-wise though, I don’t think there was some huge deficit in what we’ve been doing.  I do want to try and figure out something about her start line behaviors.  Though not usually to this extreme, she will show some stress still.  Time to experiment.  I have no problem running with her, it’s the whole' looking like she is about to barf' thing that I wonder if I can’t do something about. 

Also it’s clear that we need to work out how we are going to manage the dogwalk.  If she is actually going to run in shows now it’s time to figure out how I’m going to handle it. Details!
The Pup also would like it noted that she had a BLAST despite being kept in solitary confinement for part of the trip, then spraining her massive jaw, then burning two pads watching dock diving.  She still wishes every week was Nationals week. 

MANY BS family reunion pictures are on the way, so consider yourself duly warned! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cynosport Travel Dictionary, 2011 Edition: Gamble

Cynosport Travel Dictionary defines "Gamble" as the act of taking a chance on whether your dog will weave independently after a long day of sitting around, thus getting 20 points... Or not, thus earning zero.

As in, this gamble sucks!


Here's the Team Gamble info- someday I'll report how it goes, but we are the last group, running WAY behind already.

In fact, the real gamble is whether or not we will run before dinner.

(And if you think all this time is an advantage... Psh. You don't know us! We will just be hungry and sleepy and will have stopped caring hours earlier!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cynosport Travel Dictionary, 2011 Edition: Winning

Cynosport Travel Dictionary defines "Winning" as a pop culture term referring to an event of noted significance to one individual, though not necessarily significantly important to the masses.

As in, an E is totally winning.

Today was the warm up day- a redux of last years Grand Prix final. My one goal on this course was not to run clean really, but to make sure my girl had a fun confident run and to get her to REALLY run her dogwalk.

Mission accomplished!

She was fast and happy and ran her dogwalk like a champ. Thanks to a chiro work up she was moving great and jumping really well.

Of course, it wasn't perfect- I pulled a refusal before the Aframe and then let her take the jump after the dogwalk. Oops. I think I could have kept her on course if I'd bothered but I was too busy woo-hooing to work it. Don't worry, teamies, I'll pay attention when it counts.

I'm really happy now. Looking at video and being all Scientific shows me it would have been a fast round and well, she RAN HER DOGWALK! 1.5 seconds baby!!

So winning run- no. But winning on my terms? Totally.


The Pup also learned about winning, in her own way.

She got a giant romp with sister Triton and got to reunite with her two other awesome sibs Crime and Spanky (Er, VERY carefully with Crime!!).

Unfortunately Triton gave her the best toy ever- her first bully stick- and it's the Precious to her Golum now. She is spending all her time consumed with thoughts of the bully stick and obsessing over how to get it. When she gets it though... Mmm... Total winning.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cynosport Travel Dictionary, 2011 Edition: Ready

Cynosport Travel Dictionary defines "Ready" as a state of maximum preparedness with a minimum margin of personal error (level may vary on an individual basis).

Ready as in, ready as we'll ever be!


We did get here, all in one piece, and survived the brutal Battle Royale over RV plot selection.

It could have been a difficult Final
Leg- We made it past a chemical spill that wasn't, skirted bridge closure jams twice without delay and even lifted a rental from the airport without needing to get our RV unstuck (live and learn-check!!). Been lucky really.

And then we even scored an RV spot no where near construction OR deconstruction. REALLY lucky.


After the site settlement, we took the dogs off for a ring rental. This is mostly to burn off the squirrelies of travel. We know no training happens at this point. (Remember- ready as we will ever be!)

But I do feel pretty good now. An extra shot of 'ready' if you will. The Dog was very good; happy and listening. Oh and her dogwalks were gorgeous. The first was a little awkward, but perfect after. Those dogwalks- may not be conventionally ready, but I will take those any day this week!


They also got a swim, so they are ready for a nap. Mission accomplished!

The only one not sleeping is The Pup. She wants to DO. Like, now.

Dreaming of being a Cynosport Star someday

Dreaming of more swimming!

Dreaming of... Not much. Loves Daddy. Happy BC!!

So, we are ready!

Bring it on, Play it Again warm up!

But first... Margaritas!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cynosport Travel Dictionary, 2011Edition: Boredom

The Cynosport Travel Dictionary defines BOREDOM as Wisconsin, as in "boredom is the state of Wisconsin."

I wouldn't laugh if I were you, Illinois. You're not much better. In fact, you may be worse since you have the gall to charge for your complete lack of scenery. Haven't we paid enough without the obscene tolls??


Yes, this means we are on our way to Louisville. Travel via RV means slooooow with lots of extra time allotted for equipment malfunction (which in the case of this RV is pretty much a given). Plus we like to get there early enough for nabbing a sweet parking spot. Location, location, location you know.


So let's see. How do we feel this year? Last year I was crazy excited and running high with expectation. I remember drilling The Dog to within an inch of her life (in a FUN way), freaking out about our bad dogwalks and putting a stop in about a second before we left, not to mention training myself with workouts and good food and stuff. And yet so wholly unprepared.

Oh how times have changed!!

I'm not really fussed this year. Last year was the 'first'- a test, and the start of lot of lessons. Freshman year.

Sophomore year is Soooo much better. I know my way around, know lots of fun people, what to expect, and that all important fact that no matter what happens, it's not the end of the world and there is always next year. I'm totally ok with having eating only Vietnamese food for days and being lazy. I didn't bathe The Dog, not even one little brushing took place. We are still wholly unprepared but we have had a whole year of growth and the gift of experience so probably better off.

We did practice a little this week. Mostly dogwalks Wednesday, and although I know they can go either way at this stage, I feel better this year knowing where I stand. That we've worked out a plan (run baby run) and I'm going to stick to it- feeling resigned to our fate is a good thing.

In fact, run baby run is kind of the general plan for the week. One thing is clear- conservation has no place this week. It's one thing playing it safe to get a GP Q to get here but now is the time to just do it. Whatever IT is.

That's the thing you learn from watching FCI runs- the guy sitting in first won't stay there without pushing the envelope. Yeah yeah, they E'd, but they might have well just stayed home if they were going to give less than 100%, right?

So thats the idea. I feel good about The Dog on dirt, it's a good surface for her. I'm not worrying about bars. I'm just worried about showing up 100% so that I can at least say it was our best.

Now if we could just get out of Illinois. Seriously, I thought Wisconsin was bad...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shooter McGavin, Serpentine Breakdown, Fortress of Solitude, and the Unwanted Guest.

Prepare for media explosion!!

First off, we have to go in order since I’m Type A, so please meet Shooter McGavin.

Er, at least I think that’s his bio.  All I really know is that he is a super fancy camera that’s WAAAAY beyond me.  I like him because he takes action shots at 10 frames per second and does many more cool things I will probably never understand but at least have a prayer since he has a super fancy on-board HELP MENU! Yay.  

He also takes HD movies which I played around with and yep, they sure are HD. Whatever that means?

So, voila.  Media explosion compliments of Shooter.

She likes the Aframe, it makes her look taller.
Exemplary Running Aframe.
Ummm, at least it's not technically leaping?
Happy Dog technically leaping in tunnel.
One might think she liked weaving, huh?
But she likes ENDING the poles the most!
Hmmm, just noticed The Dog always has the same face. 

Banking the tunnel!
Getting extension!
Do you think that's in? 
Yeah! Separation! In! Awesome!
Flying the Apex is the best part EVER.
Shooter also made an appearance at the WACO agility show.  He helped us capture the magic third place Team moment. Goooo Team!  We figured it was time finally for a cheesy team shot, since they had a cute little podium and all.  

BFAM, The Dog and one shifty eyed Black Dog.
It was an interesting trial. The Dog had some very stellar runs and some very unstellar runs.  Usually she is little Ms. All-or- Nothing so it was strange to have so many ups and downs.

Negatives were a LOT of knocked bars. Yikes.  Maybe her most ever down in a weekend. The flooring was not optimal and she has been doing a lot more 20” lately.  Hoping that’s all that was?  Also very bad were weaves.  When she actually entered they were good and fast, mostly, but hitting entry was not so good.  She ran fully by them TWICE. Naughty.  Not even trying is not really ok.  She did get much better over the weekend though.  I’m thinking by the end of the first day she was just exhausted- 8 runs was too much. 

The super ginormous naughty was the death of her ability to read a serpentine- even a really obvious one. This caused two off-courses and one almost.  By the third day I ended up having to pretend she was The Pup and make it preschool obvious what I wanted.  I have no clue what caused the breakdown.  Only hoping it was temporary…

(Because this time next week we will be checking in at Cynosport!  Thinking hard about goals and expectations… hoping to have more fun this year… want to make second round for both GP and Steeple… no Es… do well in Team so we can make the finals. I think I can expect our Team to be able to do well enough and I think I can expect to do well in Steeple.  Maybe I would be better off just making sure I have more fun though.  Expectations seem to be my enemy.  Ahem, Regional.)

Anyways, good things from the weekend were placing in all her qualifying classes (except a dismal Snookers run) and being #1 22” dog for Team.  She also had strong dogwalks at the start which fizzled a bit on tough courses, then got a bit leapy, but then ended on a REALLY nice one for the last class.  I was very happy to see her come back on the last one.   

#1 CUTEST dog for sure, but that's every day.
The Pup had a very sad weekend. She at least got to come in the building, but had to be kept separated. We made her a Fortress of Solitude on the second floor, so I like the think she spent the weekend like Superman would, contemplating her own awesomeness. 

MY fortress!! 

MY toy!

Really, MY toy!!
What did I just say!!??
Oh, yes, also, meet the Unwanted Hotel Guest. Kindly dispatched by some kind of mystical Bug Wrangler by way of magic and an ice bucket. 

Google says he is a Centipede of the normal variety. Mother says he is a Giant South African Poisonous Centipede.

We gave him to the front desk.