Thursday, June 28, 2012

What a Way to Spend 3 Weeks!

Alternate title:

“Why My Dogs Hate Me and Act Like Insane Prison Escapees.”
So I volunteered as trial secretary for my club’s summer AKC show.  I thought it would be good for learning, giving back, and something that capitalizes on my skills.

Ugh. I mean, hooray for volunteering!

It IS a learning experience.  I am learning to decipher cryptology… I mean, handwriting. I think. That is a “b”… right??? Could be a “z” but gosh neither makes any sense in the context.

I am CERTAINLY giving LOTS AND LOTS back to my beloved agility club.  ALL the free time. For free!

It DOES capitalize on my skills of NOT killing others or needing much sleep. 

But I’m ok. I’m still glad to do it (or will be glad to do it in the future when everyone’s information is in the database and I never ever have to do THAT part again…shudder…). 


1.  When someone puts in three weeks of ALL THEIR FREE TIME to put dog/owner information in the database… please at least take three minutes to check the confirmation that asks you to check the confirmation. Like, right away. Not after you’ve received three confirmations.   It is sad-making when you report errors or missing information or want to add random things AFTER the Queen Secretary believes your entry is done because she sent you three confirmations and hadn’t heard about any of those things.  And now has to edit again. And send confirmation number 4.

So many entries, so little time for The Dog
2. Penmanship. Learn it. If not… Fill-able forms are online!  And then- use a printer cartridge that HAS INK.   It is sad-making for the Queen Secretary if she can’t make out the misspelled foreign words that comprise Fluffy’s registered name and then you are angry because the misspelled foreign word is misspelled.

The Pup can't read that writing either...
3.  It is sad-making when we are on closing day at noon and you would like to enter by mail. I don’t like saying no.  Even if I am the Queen Secretary.

I am confident that the NEXT trial everyone will abide by these three simple rules for no sad-making.
And if clear begging doesn’t work, maybe sad pictures of sad doggies that didn’t get to do squat for three weeks will make more of an impression.  I’m not kidding when I say that they hate me or liken them to prison inmates of the escapee variety these days.  

Sad sepia doggies
The Pup has especially suffered. At least The Dog had one day of showing and one seminar day. The Pup had absolutely nothing.  At first she was terrible to deal with; constantly stealing envelopes, trying to eat vouchers...

 and getting barky at the laptop that took up her resting place. 

Stupid laptop has to die sometime...waiting...

But towards the end she just became dejected and depressed.  Sad doggy.  

Super sad!!

Her one joy was being allowed to act as the ‘official shredder’ but even that seems to have lost appeal.

BUT she did FINALLY get to play Tuesday! She was a bit of a prison escapee (meaning, wild animal on the loose) and came away with a sore throat from trying to strangle herself.  Though overwrought most of class she did manage to focus nicely a few times. Her contacts were REALLY GOOD and in fact she has decided that running the dogwalk at warp speed is awesome (even though she runs REALLY FAR OFF).  I am trying a Tug-it with her, which is a revolting toy but seriously genius. She gets food and toys at the same time!  And drive that comes from toys! And attention that comes from food! Hooray.  She even started unsticking from me and sending. Oooooo!  The best part is that I can toss the Tug-it and, while she doesn’t bring it back, she doesn’t run away with it. I’ll take that.  Finally, getting better in a crazy class setting!

Now if she would just stop stealing and running away with our classmates’ toys…
Iz can help!! Please let me help!!
The Dog remains a perfect angel.  She wasn’t happy with all the downtime, but she is a super helpful secretary assistant. If I dropped ANYTHING, she would gently bring it back.  Not run away with it and start eating it, like SOME dogs.  Tuesday we did some contact repair and while the teeter is still poop, her DW has been so pretty.  Really powering straight off and having good interaction with the end of the board.  My favorite part is that she is becoming manageable after the DW, not merely running 50 feet ahead and then checking in.  So much is working between us now!  I am so excited to show tomorrow and apply it.  I’m even looking forward to JWW.  Yes, you heard it, I want to run a jumpers class and will have fun doing it! 

Hm. Maybe I am delirious from all the sleepless nights?

Monday, June 18, 2012

More weekend, please…

I swear, that was the shortest weekend in history. When the alarm went off today I could have sworn it was in error.  Time flies when you are having fun I guess!
Friday night did not include slaving over a draw for the MAC AKC trial. HOORAY. So instead there was wine.  Which may explain where some of that time went…hmmm…

Saturday was an early start, as teleportation has not yet been invented (unless the government is holding out on us??) and we had a trial to get to waaaaaay out in St. Cloud.  Though actually, way less way out than the old site. Only an hour away now, cool! And a pretty nice site. Too bad this one came with a crazy neighbor too (but as far as I know, no police were involved- at least when I was there).

It was HOT but thankfully the rain held off so, win.  We had entered all 4 classes (how often do we get to play all four classes in AKC??) and had fun in all four classes. The Dog was very good except for one naughty start line so we had one naughty dogwalk.  She hasn’t missed in a long time, so ok. It was going to happen sooner or later.  But I really don’t think she wants to go to Tulsa.  All the one-off, teeny tiny weird things preventing the QQ magic have to be coming from somewhere.  What other explanation can there be?? The Dog is Anti-Oklahoma. (That’s where Tulsa is…right?) Hate Crimer.

We’ll see if we get there or not. It’s getting a bit down to the wire unless I want to enter many back-to-back weekends and…ugh. I don’t.  Maybe The Dog is trying to make qualifying more climactic. Er, yeah.
Sunday was an International Handling Day seminar with Tracy Sklenar.   I can’t say I learned anything groundbreaking but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t helpful! It was nice to get a bit of a shot in the arm to run harder.  And once again, I am told that The Dog is a master manipulator and that I shouldn’t bend to her sad-face on things like the start line.  After the battle to get as far as we have I’m not sure how much I will press it, BUT I will continue to ask for more drive in when we are on the course, and I will ask her to take her reward with me (I throw a lot).  That was a fair point to Tracy. 

Aside from that, Tracy helped with some footwork since I was adding unnecessary yardage by not being as precise as I could be.  As I’d hoped, she also helped me pinpoint when to transition into decel mode and out again.  That was my big goal with ‘New Dog’ who pays attention to motion and location cues now.  Also gave me some needed grief over baby-sitting her weave entries too. How many more times must I hear that The Dog is not as bad at finding entries as I think? I guess at least once more.  

The courses she chose were fantastic. Perfect for testing all the little things I was hoping to, including my new course-walking goal of find the true collection point/s (a.k.a. “critical points”) and work out how to be there. I was so happy to be on the right page with what I thought those were! I still have to get better with walking every single option.  On the very first run through, I walked the way that I “knew” would be my path, but OOPS, things happen. I tripped ever so slightly at the second obstacle and could not believe how that escalated! I was exactly opposite of my plan for HALF of the course, so it sure would have been nice to be slightly prepared.  A very good lesson for me.
At the end of the day, I am so, so pleased with what I have right now. The Dog is simply brilliant. I found her to be so…easy at the trial Saturday.  Attentive, predictable, trustworthy.  I hope she thought the same of me!  And Sunday. Such a good girl.   No off-courses. Is that right? I think it is. Even after Tracy said it was time to push harder, and I did.  She got SUPER high on the last course where it was all a blur and she still was right where she was supposed to be.   Some of the lines she found…how? I just thought it, no handling took place, and she was there!  And then, when there was intentional handling and it came together- even better! We can threadle! (Turns out the scary throw back blind wrap was the secret?) And serp! And pull past! She turned the wrong way just once (but yes, it was the right way based on ME), she knocked one bar ALL WEEKEND on an errant rear cross. How is this possible??  Do I really have this now? Ga. I hope so.  I love it.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gain some latitude from your attitude

Rhymes are nice.

How about your attitude?
Something that really hit home this year. Attitude counts.  It matters. And other people’s attitudes matter too. A Bad Attitude at a trial can dampen the atmosphere, and if you are me, it can dampen your spirits as well. 

One rotten egg can really spoil the cake. 

I have no earth-shattering advice for dealing with the competitor with a Bad Attitude.  Best case scenario is avoidance- tent far, far away.  Find those people that you like, or those who are at least like-minded, and put them between you and the Bad Attitude.  Surround yourself with Good Attitude- don’t eat the cake!

And then focus on your own attitude.

The thing about attitude is, it’s catching. Transferable. Communicable. While a Bad Attitude can transmit like a disease, a Good Attitude can make the rounds as well.  If you want an environment of positivity and fun- foster it in yourself first.  

Be helpful. Be the bigger person. Encourage. Say nice things to fellow competitor’s faces…and behind their backs. When someone says they can’t do it, tell them to look for what they can do.  Chip in. Be a sounding board when things go wrong, but only for so long- at some point find away to turn the Pity Bus around. Speak constructively, not destructively.  Patience. Perspective. Laugh. Love your dog. Show that love. 
Be the example.

Lift others up, and you will lift yourself.

Monday, June 4, 2012

5 is the number of grace

I’m not really religious, but there are some who say that the number 5 is the number of grace.

Call me Saved- I’m a believer.
The Dog turned 5 last Thursday.  She's 5 now… and she is grace.

Grace is refinement, beauty and elegance. The light in her has somehow, miraculously, turned on. She is all these things now, illuminating from the inside for everyone to see.

Or maybe just for me.  But that’s ok.  It’s enough for me to know it’s there.
I’m feeling so…reverent of my little Dog today. If you couldn’t tell.

Yes, we had a show over the weekend. All things always come down to this. We train, we try, and will it pay off? Will the elusive Secret Dog come out to play? Will she stay with me? Is this fun- for me, her?  How will THIS weekend be remembered?  Ah- perfect. Perfect weather, perfect friends, just everything feeling really GOOD.   For once I can say it went down in way I want to remember, that I wish I could replay but not to redo, just to relive.  

So, so not a weekend where we qualified in everything or won everything or had the best time every run.  Flaws, yep. It happens. There is an element of luck, and in particular, Snookers was not in line for us. Someone else’s weekend to shine there.  We had our moments elsewhere and those are the moments I’m holding on to right now. 

My little bit of fluff, my baby bird.  She let go. I let go. Flight. Finally, finally, the elusive thing (things?) I’ve been searching for to complete US, our little team, may be really found.  I cannot convey properly how very happy I am to run my dog and have it be MY dog, the one I spend all the time with at home. Happy girl, bursting to go.  And to have that again and again and again.  Each run, exactly where and when I expect her to be. Being able to push not pull, trust not question, demand not ask.  This is the way I planned it and it worked.

I could ask, how long will I have this?  Could it go away? But I won’t.  We can, so we will. Simple as that, this will continue. It’s the new US. Awesome on demand.  Grand Prix bye? You got it. SACH Gold? Done, thanks. And then some. My head in the game, thinking of all the right things, not on what doesn’t matter. Thinking of everything and nothing, not THIS outcome or THAT last mistake. Enjoying every little move we make, because that’s where the connection is. In those little places, those tenths of a second that without it, it all goes wrong. But this time, it goes right.
I know sometimes I get hard to follow.  What it all means is that there was a plateau, and I couldn’t see our way up and onward, until now.  A plane was broken, and it’s a new existence. There will be new problems to solve; life is never perfect and neither is the Dog and neither am I. And there is that element of luck. It’s not always going to be ‘our day.’ But at this point, we might get a day. And that’s really all I wanted all along.