Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grab Bag

Free to good home: many random thoughts bouncing around in my head.

Everything must go!!

Meaning...Yay random catch up post!
First up- chiropractics!

Guess what- It works! It's not all broken spines and malpractice. I feel super. Or at least on the way to super. Don't worry, it's not like I've been duped into giving up my paycheck for the rest of my life as the chiro story goes. The best part about my Doctor (yeah, a Doctor! Not a "doctor") is that we have a PLAN. 1) Put everything in its place 2) Keep it there with a bit o rehab. "Rehab" involves this crazy muscle work (like massage in horror stories), then some movement correction. 1, 2, done. And I'm learning a lot. Very interesting stuff about mechanics.

Plus the actual adjustments are wicked. Wicked! I swear the doctor is a ninja. Or Chuck Norris. But he is crazy good and I feel so super!

Can you tell?
I got to thinking that maybe this is what it's like for The Dog. Super feeling yay movement and jelly-like looseness. (Yep that was a sentence??) So when I noted some hinky moves from her when running the other day I made her an appointment with someone my vet referred.

Taadaaa! Now she is super. Vertebrae L2 through L6 OUT. Now back IN. Happy Dog prancing with jelly-like looseness. AND I learned a lot there too. This vet had some new thoughts on The Dogs musculature. And she wasn't Doomsday. She had great feedback on a few weaknesses and how to strengthen.

So now we both have homework on moving differently so we can get out of these phases of bad concrete-like stiffness and be only jelly.

Frog Dog exists!!
So we are all rekindling our fun trick roots. I get to teach a super cool trick class for a bit so I need to run through the how tos again. The girls are quite happy with this arrangement. Many treats. Such a good work out too. Lots of core work involved (for them... Not so much me sadly) as we go though my impending lessons. Students are in for a fun class but it will definitely grow some skills and muscles! (Hm, note to self: class seems popular- next time be smart and sell spots for 5k to the highest bidders in my circle who have the best offers of free services and goods...I need someone to do my taxes- hint hint.)

I'd hoped to use The Pup to demo but it might be too mind blowing to come in and work without a warm up. She really can start focusing any day now in the face of excitement. (Though- big plus!- she worked around a person running their dog in a hovaround.)

To be fair though, she hasn't done squat for 2 weeks aside from some flatwork DAYS ago. Maybe once we put her back in business she will forgive me and chill out. She is cone free and not at risk for dumping her guts out so I'm thinking she can start in some tomorrow again.
It's super imperative that she gets practice... Because... I registered her! Woowoo! As a 'canine partner.' (thhhhbt. I think it's lame that I had to claim her as an accident- like I don't know where she came from. They forbid you from using kennel names too. Pish posh.)

PROOF!! Ready for action with the Unknown Soldier.
Anyways, now she is all set for her first show which I will hopefully get into!! Three days after the 15th month mark!
(Please please I am a rock star worker!!)
Including a possible debut, we have many a fun thing on the docket. Some shows coming up- our first UKI, then AKC, then USDAA. Oops. All in a row. How did I do that? At least we will have a stretch of dull following that (since we didn't get into an AKC show!!! Ga! May that never repeat!!)

For the UKI show we are experimenting. Time to let the cat out of the (grab) bag- I entered The Dog in 26". I really want to run her FEO at WTTO this year. Pending the outcome of the UKI show, we will start working on making that a sane decision.

I want to do this for a few reasons- first, it will make me accountable for continued working on The Dogs health homework. Next, challenge! New! Then, it will be really good to play with The Dog in that high stress environment.

After that, hmm, options. If its not a disaster I might see about keeping on with 26" in AKC. We will see. Just depends. She looks more comfortable at 26 than 22. In practice. A show setting though... Like I said- depends. I'm not sold on any one outcome.
Other cool stuff- lots of Daisy action! A private for The Dog in February! Then a working spot for one of them in April when she comes back. We will be so smart! I am looking forward to her take on motivation and the mental game in regards to The Dog. And of course, assistance with handling and perfecting our dogwalk!
That might be it for today. Definitely will report back with video after the 26" experiment. I will welcome feedback. Constructive feedback. No Haters!
The Pup is a Hater BTW. She leaves stuffed animal parts around. As a warning.  Apparently I'm never allowed to shelf her again. Or else.

The Dog is a Lover. Of all toys. ALL TOYS. ALL TOYS BELONG TO DOG.

OK Dog, you win. Because you didn't threaten my life.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It Hurts to Laugh

Just ask me and The Pup.  

Her sense of humor has been way low this week after her spay. 

Her spay which went really well but which resulted in Sad Pup for several days.
And then Angry Pup took over.  

Angry Pup is not so easy to live with! Her cone is mighty and only enhances her naughtiness.  The Dog has been gored by the cone enough to keep a wide berth. 

Angry Pup also is harder to bring in public, on account of her being so angry. 

Angry Pup lasts just 5 minutes alone in a soft side crate before ripping out a panel and escaping (with her cone on) to go traipse around the show by herself.  This same Pup also shows off her vocal extremes for the benefit of all at said show.  

Thereby rekindling her nickname of yore- Velociraptor.

Which of course led to the purchase of one adorable dinosaur collar.

Complete with Velociraptors!
As for me, I put my back out.  Glad it happened AFTER the show and not during.  But seriously, it's my way lower spine so it really hurts to laugh.  (Why then am I torturing myself with 30 Rock?) I have my first ever chiro set up for tomorrow because I can't move so much and apparently I laugh a lot, especially if I'm in pain.  Irony?

I just hope they don't tell me its from running dogs in agility in pink minimal shoes on smurf mats. That would be bad. 
We DID have more runs than we have had in the last six months. Still not entered in everything, but lots more. It was a test to see what kind of condition The Dog is in and to see how certain things held up over the weekend.

Certain things of course being her attitude, jumping, and dogwalk.  

All three = AWESOME! 

Sure, she was tired by the last runs.  But she managed to have happy dog face on her startlines and not barfy dog face ALL weekend.  And she managed some silly Snookers plans well, which is always a sign that she's in a good mood.

And her jumping actually improved! She did have some trouble with the double though, I think we need to do some drills in the next few weeks.  Otherwise she did a very good job keeping her feet up, even when tunnels were present.  

As for her dogwalk, she had a two misses over the whole weekend, but it's ok because I know exactly why. I usually am left scratching my head if she doesn't run like I know she can so it feels like progress to have a clue.  The others were close but when I look at the video she is actually running, not just leaping from yellow. That too feels like progress. I would sure like to see her put a front foot down like she does in practice though.  I'm sort of assuming that what I'm seeing in shows is a result of the course layout.  Usually in practice I run fairly easy and FAST loads so she probably isn't used to working out the entry and exit at the same time yet.  So slow loads are on the docket (from weaves and teeters) next, then slow and icky layouts.  BUT we did practice from the table recently and that totally paid off on her best run of the weekend (table to DW in standard Saturday).  Just evidence that training pays off.
Anyways, overall a good weekend. Our team took first in the Friday  tournament and she landed a few LAA legs from the day. She also came back from two not so great first classes to sneak into third dog for points for the day.  AND. For once I did NOT biff Gamblers and had a good plan, so that was my highlight. 

Saturday we Q'd in Gamblers, which we needed, with another good plan. She nailed the gamble with zero assistance from me- if you watch the video that is the one where I just stood there.  Good dog! You're so nice to your lazy handler.  We also had a really good Standard run where I wasn't TRYING to be lazy but somehow she did some amazing things without my help.  I can't believe the little girl who misses every entry I don't babysit nailed the weaves off the dogwalk. Happiness!! (We also ran Grand Prix and it was the hardest course in forever. We had a lot of dumb errors including a refusal where The Dog made me JUMP her.  She was super fast and it was fun though! Wait, maybe jumping my dog is why my back is out?? Highest I've jumped. Ever. You are welcome Dog for not being turned into a pancake due to your silliness.)  

Sunday we ran in everything, a rarity! She did really well after running Jumpers first- got her zoomies out there.  I do like to see her enjoy Jumpers, even if it isn't quite the right course.  Then we got second in everything else which was really funny to me. I think I like saying 'we're number two!!!' and giggling.

Tee hee! 
Here's the video of our fun.  I have to say that I'm two for two on showing with zen, but we've all gotten an extra dose of some perspective around here. But I wish it didn't come as a result of a friend's terrible news. 

I love my dogs. I think it will be pretty easy to remember what 'the point' is from now on.
So that's the last week.
 Sleepy cute puppies now have this whole week off.  Then we can gear up again for THREE SHOWS IN A ROW! Oh the insanity.  AND A PRIVATE RIGHT AFTER! Which I am really looking forward to.  I think. It's a bit scary.

More on that later! 

First we have to teach my spine to bend again. 

Oh, I so hope my pink shoes aren't to blame.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Best. Winter. Ever.

Snow bunnies aside, Minnesotans are reveling mightily in this most glorious Spring-like sham of a winter. It's not often we can brag about no snow and comfortable temps in a way that sends tears to our southern neighbors eyes.

But we can now!!

"Neener Neener Neener!! We have sun and wa-armth, Winter is a wiener!!!"

It shows no sign of stopping either. While it will be cold for a spell this week, it's going to be followed up by yet another gorgeous day next weekend. Get yer sunblock y'all.
Of course, like many, the crew and I headed out to enjoy the early Spring yesterday. We took the opportunity to get around and sop up some St Paul culture along with the sunbeams.
We trekked along, stopping off in a historic train yard. Where of course puppies were posed like train hopping hobos of yesteryear. If only we'd had some bindles for props...
Next stop, the gorgeous lake area. Even with a sheen of snow, it's still one of my favorite areas. Killer historical homes. Pretty views and plenty of places for posing pensive pups. (Woah, A+ to me for awesome alliteration...)

Bench poses...

Beach poses...


Bridge poses...
The girls had never been in a human sized tunnel before. They didn't like it.
And ending on some bomb poses!!'

It was a monument to a torpedo something or other. I forgot to read the sign. Oh well. I can still appreciate the history even if I don't know what it is.
I'm so happy for the nice day. The Pup needed a last big adventure; tomorrow she enters convalescence. Her spay has been scheduled for bright and early Tuesday.

I hate this day in my girls lives. And then the aftermath of keeping them quiet. But hopefully it will be two weeks and over and we will never have to deal with it again! And I can look forward to at least one day of Baby Seal Sweet Pup. Maybe. Not.

Oh dear... I wonder if she will leave the vet office in one piece??!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Good Start

I'm sure I'll be tested in the upcoming months but for now I can say hooray for maintaining my goals for 2012 trialing! Baby Steps...

But seriously, given the fact that there were several items "on the line" (you know, if you care about titles and nationals and stuff like that, winky face) I am proud of maintaining my chill and focus and not messing with The Dog's fragile psyche. One giant leap for Project Go Dog.
So, how did we do in our chilled state? In a word: awesome! In more words:

Friday we had one run only, my nemesis Grand Prix. I hoped that coming in fresh would help us since it had once before and I was right! She did a great job and ran really well. I let her go a bit wide on a few turns in order to save some jumps, but she was overall tight and fast. Super zippy poles and a happy dogwalk with decent response after. All together equaling a big fat Q, finishing our 2012 Nationals requirements AND her Tournament Gold title. Yaaaaay! It was second place too, in a pack of great dogs with times all squished within a few tenths. Icing.

Saturday we had Gamblers, Standard and Snookers. Gamblers was our only NQ of the weekend and it was due to ME not running a good plan for her gamble. She had a good opening though with many points and she had fun; she was crazy proud of herself for doing what she thought was the gamble.

Standard was lovely- best run of the weekend by far. Very fast- best time of ALL dogs. Sure helps when The Dog remembers to do her table correctly!!

Snookers Saturday and Sunday were both great, great runs. I had been doing SOMEthing wrong in this class for a while (6 months?). From Qing almost every time to NQing almost every time- clearly we lost the mojo.  I am determined to get it back. After deciding it was most likely due to not running the best plan for my dog and instead running just the 'best plan' I went back to the former. Ding ding ding! And a Duh for good measure.  Saturday was a pretty competitive plan and a good time on it, event though we did many weaves. Sunday didn't seem competitive to me but it was good enough for a Super Q and third. Yay.

Of course, it wouldn't be a weekend running The Dog if there wasn't a moment of weird. In the second Standard run she pulled up at the start (out of a tunnel?!?) and stopped and looked at me for several seconds before resuming. Then it was good. Weird.  Still a good time despite that, but too bad about the start!

We also had a Pairs run- one that we needed! We've been waiting since November for a chance to finish our Silver Pairs title and therefore our Silver ADCh.  And we made it! Thanks Diva Black Dog! It was dicey (did they both have to knock their only bars of the weekend on THAT run??) but lucky they are speedy so still managed the Q. 

In honor of her Silver ADCh, we borrowed a ribbon and took rare celebratory photos with BOTH of us. See how schmoopie sweet we are? Isn't it sick? I do love The Dog though...

And since I don't have the actual run recorded, please accept video of my favorite run of the weekend in its place, Standard Saturday. Much prettier to watch than our Pairs run, promise!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Back, Moving Forward…

…Though obviously not at the same time.

That just wouldn’t be safe- and we are ALL about safety here at The Project.

Which makes it quite ironic that I, as Leader, enter 2012 with a fat lip compliment of The Dog.

(Yes, The Dog, NOT The Pup. Shocking, right? I know.  The Pup needed this noted in writing.  In bold writing.)
I’m not entirely sure what I think of 2011. I’ve been reflecting my butt off trying to decide.  

Maybe the fat lip sums it up: unexpected, unavoidable at the time, but definitely a learning experience. 
Rewind.  Start of 2011.  2010 had felt like a year spent adjusting.  2011 was the year I thought things might settle and come together.  Yes, I still had a pack of goals and accomplishments to work for; most of those were based on the whole ‘settled’ theory.  I hoped to focus much more on just running and less on all the little things. It was supposed to be the year of competing and going for it, but the year had different plans.

2011 was the year of learning.  Details.   Foundations.  The little things.  Go figure.
I fought pretty hard against the learning current for the first... 5 months? of the year.  I reaaaaalllly wanted to reach stasis with The Dog. I wanted to be done with the bits and pieces and for us to be whole.  You know what they say about wishing in one hand though… we didn’t get anywhere very fast with that mentality.  By spring, it was clear- the process was still incomplete and there was more learning to do. 

And now I wonder why I fought against it for so long. 
When I was fighting taking the time to go back to the drawing board AGAIN, I was frustrated.  I wasn’t happy with revisiting the dogwalk another time, with reigning in  China Dog, with trying to move past ring stress again in 2011. I had a hard time seeing it for what it was- a gift. 

It was a gift that came with seemed at first to come with strings though- take the survey, win an iPad! Sit through the sales pitch, and have a free weekend at a time share!  Lots of work went into it before I could have it, and the act it took wasn’t always pleasant.  There were tears and dead ends.  And some throwing of things that were not throwing approved toys.  But somewhere in the midst of it all came the signs you wait for- the keys to the timeshare, the ‘sign here’ for the iPad.  Somewhere it became real.  Gratifying.

I realized how very, VERY much I was learning.  The knowledge unfolded like giant wings and we were off.   With clarity I began to get what was missing and, finally, what we needed to fill it in.  It is humbling to learn these things but also so satisfying and exciting.  And motivating. 

I can say I know a lot now. More than ever. But not everything. Not by a long shot.  There is unlimited knowledge out there, still ours for the taking.  And we should never stop looking for it, for something new. I learned that you can’t just expect the answers to be there when you need them- you need to always be searching for the next great answer, even if you don’t yet know the question. 

So for this year, I’m dumping the thought of what I think we should accomplish in 2012.  I’m definitely dumping the idea that we should ever achieve the stasis.  While it’s probably a fair and common wish to be able to have a predictable and consistent agility team, that just goes too much against what I wanted to begin with when I started my little project.   If you want amazing highs, you need the lows.  So I need to remember that if anything amazing is going to happen, it’s only going to happen if I stop being scared of lows. 
My goals then:

 Enjoy the process.  While this has all been very Dog-centric, I have to say that it was having The Pup this year that reminded me of the important part (that being the journey).  While I started with the mindset of blah-foundation, who wants to do that? I learned pretty quickly that I do! Her love of learning and joy of just doing were a real inspiration and it was impossible not to be drawn into her world. I needed to be shown that there are so many unbelievable things that happen in the developmental stages and she was the one to do that.

Find the focused state.  My teammate needs me to do this.

Remember to be daring. My teammate deserves this.

Be open.  When I finally opened up to the possibility of getting help (you mean I’m not alone and I don’t need all the answers?) I was so grateful to find it waiting.  It doesn’t matter really if I have the same ‘style’ or background or goals- any person can have an idea. In fact, the more ‘not me’ they are, the more likely they have something I need to hear.

To help me to do this, I will continue with the 2011 trend of attending seminars. I will take privates when I can. I will attend classes on a regular basis.  I will go new places and try different things and meet whoever I can. I will ask, look, listen and be open. 

I think if I can do all this, we can have a good year.
But just so we are clear-

I am very proud of my girls. 

I am very happy with the little bits of progress.

And the big bits.

And we have some big bits of accomplishment to show for the year...

The Pup:

And The Dog:

And I am excited to see what this year brings. If the close of 2011 is any indication, it will be VERY exciting indeed.  

But no matter where it goes, this year, I won't fight it. 

I will be glad for the journey we have.