Thursday, January 29, 2009

Neat site - Hip dysplasia and CCLR

Saw this site about canine lameness mentioned on a local agility list. The site has videos of dogs walking, trotting, and climbing stairs with a normal gait, with hip dysplasia, and with a cranial cruciate ligament rupture. There are normal videos as well as some hi-tech videos using sensors and computers. It loads kind of slow on my computer so I haven't watched it all, but it is neat.

Fortunately, so far Lucy and Walter haven't experienced these conditions, although my childhood dog Snoopy developed, around age 7 or 8, some kind of condition where both knees had to be operated on within a few years of each other. All I can remember is it was something about the ligaments giving out on her and being replaced with artificial ligaments. I assume this must have been CCLR?

For more info on CCLR from a fellow blogger, check out Roxanne's post about her dog's experience with CCLR, treated with TPLO surgery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Nat from Dream Dogz tagged me in the 5th photo thing. Hmmm let's see... Well, not a particularly thrilling photo:

Lucy and Walter trying to sleep, December 2007. Wait a minute, December 2007...!? Oh boy. I only have three photo folders: "have been printed", "not to print", and "to print". This photo was in the "to print" folder (though in retrospect, I'm not quite sure why, lol). Guess it's about time to load them onto a disk and get the darn things printed eh!

Few of the blogs I visit haven't already been tagged with this, and I can't remember which ones they are, so I'll politely bow out of tagging other blogs. Thanks though Nat, it's a fun tag and was a really good reminder to get my photos printed! :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Group practice: gambles

At today's group practice we set up a few gambles from a previous Nationals. After spending much of last year's practice time working on distance stuff, Walter's at a point now where I no longer panic upon seeing every single gamble course map. He now has a nice little (though not complete) repertoire of skills that come in useful for distance.

The first gamble was a series of jumps, basically a two-jump go, then come back over a couple of angled jumps. I don't have the course map for it. Anyway, it went well.

In the other part of the building was a teeter and jump, set up for additional practice opportunities. First we did a go-teeter / here-jump, which went fine. Then I tried a go-jump / here-teeter, which went not so fine. What was I thinking. Poor Walter hasn't been taught to independently find and take a straight approach to the contacts, so he stepped on the teeter from an angle, slipped up his footing, and got a scare. Accompanied him to the teeter a few times and he seemed to be ok.

Then we worked on the main gamble (1-2-3-4) from the 2008 Nationals. Walter surprised me by taking the correct tunnel entrance every time, but I think it's because he's a big dog and by the time he landed from the jump, he never even saw the wrong tunnel entrance. What I was REALLY happy to see is that he read my push/"get out" from 2 to 3 really well. Previously he didn't really respond to that kind of thing.

Finally we worked on the other main gamble (1-2-3-4-5) from the 2008 Nationals, but replaced the frame with the teeter and space didn't allow for the #5 jump. Walter did this one at a practice last summer so it wasn't completely new to us. Anyway, he read the turn away from 2 to 3 well, but refused the teeter by running past it with a worried look on his face. After accompanying him for a few passes on the teeter, he felt better about it and did a good job with the gamble.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Morning Star trial: Walter's MADC and ATChC

Well there's one goal for 2009 accomplished: Walter got the third and final Standard leg needed for his MADC and therefore for his ATChC. Nice to have that one done!

We were there on Friday and Saturday, seven runs each day. No videos, wasn't in the mood to find and beg people to film our runs.

Masters Snooker #1, 2, and 3: What the bejeebers, Walter's best class and we didn't get a single Q. In the first one, he took back to back obstacles of choice (an offcourse possibility I hadn't considered), tweet. In the second, he took a 2 in the opening instead of the 6 that we needed so we were 3 points shy (again, not something I foresaw when walking the course). In the third, which was the last run of our second day, the weaves were 7 and since I didn't want to have to ask him to weave at all, our choices were three 6s and make it through to 6 in the closing, or two 5s (teeter) and two 6s (three-jump combo) and make it through to 5 in the closing. I opted for the latter. The reds were pretty spread apart (almost all four corners of the ring), as were the 5 and 6 from the 2 (to transition to the closing), so it was a LOT of mileage to try to squeeze in to 55 seconds, but we gave it a good run! So much fun. Ran out of time just as we got to the 5 in the closing. Had some of our turns been tighter (or, perhaps, less wide, since they weren't exactly tight to begin with), we probably would have had enough time.

Team #1 and 2: Dang dang dang. Both times my partner was clean but I had a 5-fault bobble and we weren't enough under time to be able to make up for it, though on one we would have had it had we been less than a second faster. Partner for first one was a sweet GSD or GSD mix; partner for second was an aussie with a fondness for blond dogs who managed to stay on track and not come to visit Walter. Goofup on the first course was Walter popping at his usual place toward the end of the weaves; goofup on the second was my handling error which caused a refusal at the weaves. Oh yeah and another thing, in his first team, which was his very first event of the trial, he had a bit of a scary teeter when he went running up it as if he thought it was the dogwalk. Fortunately he was just fine and didn't have any teeter or dogwalk issues for the rest of the trial.

Jumpers #1, 2, and 3: Good first two runs so two more Jumpers Qs, but on the third, I thought I could get in a front cross but ended up rushed and out of place. It was right after a chute. Being so rushed to get there I lost track of where exactly I was positioned and also lost sight of Walter, so for a moment I just stood still and held my arm up hoping he'd take the oncourse jump and not the dummy jump right next to it. A moment later, the "ohhhhhh" from the crowd told me he'd taken the dummy. I had been practically blocking the correct jump though, so he had been a good boy and we kept going, no point "fixing" that. Later in the course he ran past a jump, no idea why, but again the "fix it! fix it! fix it!" gremlins kept their distance so we were able to just keep going.

Standards #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6: Walter needed one more Standard for his MADC and ATChC, so I had entered him in all six Standards, taking the approach that "you can't lose 'em all!" (saw that line in an agility blog or magazine article recently). Well, it worked! Not only did he not lose them all, but he actually Qd in 3 of them (the second, fourth, and sixth). The NQs were caused by (a) a dogwalk refusal (I had given him a bad approach) plus a runby on a jump (didn't fix it); (b) ran past weave entry plus popped at end; and (c) ran past a jump and popped out of the weaves right after entering. Interestingly, one of the judges designed two of this weekend's Standards (as well as one of the Teams) with two sets of 6-weaves instead of the far more common one set of 12-weaves. (However, those aren't the ones we Qd in.)

General notes: Walter ran well all day both days, just a few momentary lapses causing some jump runbys (none of which I "fixed", so take that, dagnabbed gremlins!). Even with seven runs each day his enthusiasm level was good, though now that he has his ATChC I can be more choosy in what to put him in so will cap it at six runs per day. Also, now that he has his ATChC, I'm going to go on a ribbon diet. For the last year or so I've been taking all Q ribbons and placement ribbons only if he Qd, but really, except for a few particularly meaningful ones, they all get shoved into a box, for that non-existant day in the future when I'll finally figure out what to do with them. I'll still take them at venues that do ribbon presentations, since I'd feel kind of rude to decline it. But at venues that have self-serve ribbons I'll pass unless it's a venue from which we don't already have a ribbon, or if it was a particularly memorable run.

Delicious veggie burger from Lotus Heart Blossoms Vegetarian Restaurant

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goals yesterday and today

Every January I like to have a look back over the past year and see how we did with the goals set a year ago, and set more for the upcoming year.

So, starting with last year's goals:

  • Add tunnel/contact discriminations and "out" to skill set
    We made some progress, and these skills came in handy for Walter's first Masters Gamblers Q, but at this point I'm not convinced that there isn't some fluking going on with the discriminations so more work is needed.

  • Add hard and soft weave entries to skill set
    Didn't do any work on these other than a few living room sessions -- I've just been happy if he's able to weave all the way through without popping. It's totally cool to watch a dog independently nail a tough entry, but it just hasn't been a priority for us since aside from an occasional weave gamble one can generally futz about to help the dog get the entry. So we've focused on acquiring other skills this year.

  • Improve distance skills and have a try at Masters Gamblers
    Done! After fluking his way to a Q in his two first tries at Advanced Gamblers in July and September 2007, Walter took a hiatus from Gamblers to work on distance skills. He entered his first Masters Gamblers class this past June and earned his Gamblers title in November.

  • Take time off trialing this summer to train a running frame
    Nah. His completely untrained "running" frame (we abandoned 2o2o and didn't retrain anything in its place) hasn't caused the problems that Lucy's has, so why try to fix something that isn't broken?

  • Achieve fully independent contacts
    Good progress made with lateral and send-ahead distance, though his speed and confidence need work.

  • It'd be awfully nice to get two more Advanced Standard Qs for his SAADC
    Done! Walter had breezed through the Advanced Games, and with his second ATR Q in January sealed the deal on his having earned a Q in every advanced games course he had ever been entered in (yes I'm quite happy about that brag). However, those Advanced Standard runs sure were a long time coming and are our ultimate anti-brag: Took us about 15 tries at Advanced Standard to get the three Qs needed for his SAADC title which he got in April.

And so, here, in no particular order, are my goals for 2009:

  • Solidify tunnel/contact discrimination skills
  • Improve speed and confidence on dogwalk and teeter at a distance
  • Turn Walter into a tunnel suck Get Walter to be happy about sending ahead to tunnels (we've blown a few gambles due to this issue)
  • It'd be awfully nice to get one more Masters Standard Q for his ATChC!
  • Get back into playing Steeplechase! (given his weave issues he hasn't run Steeplechase since the spring since I wanted to "save" his good weaves for Standards)
  • Edit on 4-Jan-09: Forgot a big one, which is to get a lot better at cuing tight turns.
  • And another: Add 270s to skill set.
  • And yet another: Some general things to aim for: Trust my dog more by letting him work at a greater distance and not babysitting every obstacle; Run faster!