Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dream Fields trial: Tumble #2 and Gamble #5

I think Dream Fields trials are my favourites -- Walter always feels so at home there. Anyway, a great day today with Mr. Reliable in which he went 3 for 4. Video below.

Gamblers: Scary moment at the dogwalk! We were going at a decent speed, I shaped his approach but not enough -- he started to scramble on the up ramp and then fell from the top. He landed upright and seemed ok, so I figured I shouldn't turn it into A Big Deal and instead just keep going, keeping a close eye of course to make sure he was ok. If memory serves, this was the second time he's fallen from the dogwalk, first time being quite a while ago. Anyway the gamble was doable for us and many others. His fifth Masters Gamblers Q -- hooray for gambles designed for Not Tunnel Sucks. ;) Oh and hey I just realized this is the ONLY Gamblers Q including Starters and Advanced that I've caught on video!

Jumpers: Last weekend: 3.9 YPS and over time by 2.5 seconds. This weekend: 5.2 YPS and under time by 9 seconds. Go figure. Q.

Steeplechase: We haven't entered Steeplechase since May 2008-- in the cool season we usually "save" our weaves for Standards, and in the warm season we don't enter Standards or Steeplechases because of the weaves thing. But this one fit into the day's schedule well so why not. Two sets of weaves -- during the first set I started clapping, and LOUDLY! What the!?!? The only times I've clapped on course before have been to help get his attention for a turn, so no wonder the poor guy pulled off the weaves. So, incomplete on the first weaves and over time by a couple of seconds.

Snooker: Getting warm and muggy... Planned the opening to not need the #6 weaves so we Qd with the minimum 40 points.

Hoping for cool, happy weaving weather next weekend when Walter runs in Standard for the first time (except for Nationals) since April!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dogz trial: The super-dork and the slow-poke

I was feeling extra-specially dorky today after one of the nose pads on my glasses fell off and got lost as I was swatting at flies early in the day. Hopefully the lopsidedness wasn't too noticeable, but it feels weird for sure so off to the glasses repair shop tomorrow.

Wow, they sure weren't going to run out of Q ribbons with today's courses being what they were. The day started with two Standards, neither of which Walter was entered in but from what I saw they took more than their fair share of victims.

Then it was Gamblers, and NOT ONE of the ~35 dogs in the event got the main gamble. And, it's not like dogs were coming close to getting it: only one dog made it beyond the second of the five obstacles in the main gamble. And, no, it wasn't Walter. Oh, and there were no mini gambles to have a try at, which was a bit sucky.

Then Snooker. Holy combinations, Batman! The 5, 6, and 7 were three-jump combos, and the 4 was a two-tunnel combo. But hey, no weaves so I wasn't going to complain. Went for a non-exciting 5-2-3 in the opening since the combos would have eaten up a lot of time. So we had just enough points for a Q and actually had about 6 seconds left over.

Last, Jumpers. Walter was quite slow for this run, about as slow as he's ever been, I guess because of the heat. It was only about 22 degrees (72F), but felt warmer than that. I had to slow down and wait for him at a few spots and even started cheerleading at one point, poor pup. This run reminded me of the reason we don't do a lot of summer trialing, although what trialing we have done he generally hasn't been that slow. Anyway, his slowness (3.94 yps - typically he's in the 4.5-5 range for Jumpers) combined with the tight SCT gave us almost 2.5 time faults, so no Q. I can't remember the last time we ran clean but with time faults on a Standard or Jumpers course - was probably back in Advanced due to non-NQing bumbles. Well, at least we were in good company today as there were quite a few clean Jumpers runs save for time faults.

Here's our Jumpers run, the only one of the day we got on video:

Having fun though, and looking forward to more trials in the weekends to come, though hoping for cooler weather!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fetchin' frenzy

In my paranoia (isn't life fun as a worry-wart!) about the potential for Walter to injure his front end, over the past months I've been cringing more each time I throw a tennis ball, tug, or other such toy for Walter and see him dive into the ground, swinging his rear around and twisting his shoulders as he stops to pick up the ball. Seeing a post on Susan Garrett's blog about this sort of thing recently wasn't much comfort!

But Walter loves to play fetch on our daily walks at the park. So I'd like to find safer ways to play the game.

One thing we sometimes do to mix it up is I tell him to back up, then toss the ball at him. He can easily and safely catch it with all fours on the ground, unless my throw is wonky. Which happens a lot when one is a klutz! It's fun once in a while, but not the same thing as throwing something for him to chase.

One alternative that seems to be working well is the same normal game of fetch, but using a Hol-ee Roller toy. It's bigger than, say, a tennis ball so it sits higher up off the ground, and the holes in it make it super easy for him to grab. So, he doesn't have to lower his head as much to grab it, and being so easy to get a hold of, he doesn't miss it and then stop sudenly to turn around and get it. He just runs up to it and scoops it up, then slows down to turn around much more gently. I'm no physiology expert, but playing fetch with this thing looks a lot easier on his body than with the usual fetch toys.

And, the Hol-ee Roller is great for tugging - easy to hold, and stretchy to make for a more comfortable tugging experience for both of us. BUT!!! beware of teeth - all those holes mean not much protection for human hands, as I keep learning the hard way!

Oh and no I don't own stock in their company :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cat drinking from faucet

Boring post title, but this is one seriously funny video. Actually gets funnier and funnier towards the end. Caution: Not recommended for viewing with food or drink in your mouth unless you're looking for an excuse to buy a new computer.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A couple more thoughts

came to mind and made me smile after writing that last post.

Better a vet than at the vet's!
and my favourite:

Putting Walter in vets isn't the beginning of the END of his agility career;

Putting Walter in vets is the beginning of the EXTENDING of his agility career!
Feeling much better about the whole thing now :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 2 - And more thoughts on Walter as a soon-to-be vet

Sinus cold continues, but not too bad.

Gamblers was first. An okay opening including the jump/chute/jump mini gamble, but Walter went into the wrong tunnel in the main. Didn't call him off the wrong tunnel since he was going out of his way to go to a far tunnel, a good thing!

Next, Jumpers. It felt like a nice run, and it was a Q, but in watching the video back I like yesterday's Jumpers run better -- Walter seemed more into it and I seemed less bossy. Anyway, here's today's Jumpers:

Last, Snooker. Like yesterday, went for four reds to avoid the #6 weaves in the closing. But unlike yesterday, it wasn't quite as smooth, and three of our four obstacles of choice were three-obstacle combos, so we ran out of time just before the #5 in the closing; no Q. There were a couple of awkward snookerish moments in there, so I wouldn't have felt that great about the Q anyway.

Ok - here's where I get all wordy and whiny - long blog coming up!

Walter had a massage today by the very popular local canine massage person who had a booth on site. She noticed he seemed tight in between his front legs, and it showed on his face when she manipulated him there, perhaps a knot. She asked if he lands heavy when jumping, which I think he kind of does. She showed me a stretch to help with that area, which I will add to our routine. But, this really confirms three things for me: (a) he'll be started on a regular massage regime; (b) he'll be started on a regular chiro routine; and (c) more and more I'm thinking of dropping him to 16" vets before his sixth birthday, probably in January just because it's the start of a new year though I could do it any time.

That last one is a subject that's been tugging at my thoughts since Walter turned five in July, becoming eligible for vets. The thought of Walter as a vet forces me to accept that he's getting older and to think about his mortality. Also it would suck that there would not be any further height drops to look forward to when he gets OLD old. And, quite simply, I enjoy watching videos of Walter athletically jumping 22" -- seeing him over 16" jumps is just not the same thing. These must sound like pathetic, selfish reasons for delaying putting him into vets, and they are. But in a nutshell, what gets to me is that, in my mind, I can't help but think that dropping Walter to vets is the beginning of the end of his agility career. [sniff... boo hoo... WAAAAAAH!! okay I need to get a grip!]

BUT. As a 16" veteran dog...

Would Walter be unhappy or somehow feel a lack of satisfaction? Nuh uh.
Would he enjoy and be more comfortable jumping 16" instead of 22"? Safe to say, yes.
Would his body undergo less wear and tear and hopefully allow him to keep doing agility well into his senior years? I hope so. I would love love LOVE for Walter, who wasn't bred for agility and doesn't have the world's best structure, to still be doing agility five years from now. Dropping him to 16" soon is probably one of the best things to make that happen, along with stretches/massage/chiro and putting forth a more focused effort to cue smoother turns for him.
I am definitely very grateful that the AAC is so welcoming of its veteran dogs. Not only do they offer a vets class, to begin with, but also, dogs who drop from Regular to Specials to Vets don't have to restart their Q counts for titles. Plus, as of this year they've dropped the "S" and "V" prefixes on all titles. Pretty darn cool eh.

I know there are far more important things going on in the world and who the heck cares about something as trivial as this. Still, it brings a tear to my eye to think about Walter as a vet. But, once the deed is done I'm sure I'll get over it quickly and will have no regrets! And will stop whining about the whole thing here on my blog :-)

P.S. I hope it's understood that I have no judgement toward people who keep their dog in Regular or Specials for as long as they want. Every dog is different. I just feel that for Walter, this is the best thing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 1 - ADSC trial (All Day Sneezing and Coughing?)

Thank goodness that for today's All Dog Sports Club trial we were only signed up for two classes and that they were the first two of the day, cause I have a cold :( Snooker followed by Jumpers, a Q in each, with Walter running like a dream, really attentive and fastish (for him - dogwalk aside!) - he loves flowing lines where he can just open up and run. The Snooker video is missing the start and the Jumpers is a bit too zoomed in since my cheapo camera doesn't always cooperate with zooming out. But anyway it was quite a fun morning with some fun courses; the judge is from Saskatoon, where years ago I dreamed of moving to...

The Snooker allowed for a nice flowing opening with four reds so we did that instead of needing the #6 weaves in the closing, a good thing too since he ran right past them. Not crazy about how I chose to handle the ending to the Jumpers run from the tire to the next jump, but Walter didn't seem to mind too much. Lots of people stayed on the left of the jump after the tire, then rear crossed the next jump for a much more flowing line than the way I handled it. Oh but hey, tons of front crosses in that Jumpers and I'm glad to see I don't seem to be bending forward nearly as much as I used to.

Back for three more tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Guides Canins trial

Woo hoo! Fall is here and with it, the start of Walter's trial season. We don't do much agility in the summer due to the heat.

Just three events both days for Walter, and camping onsite Saturday night, fun! Except for the nearby snoring, which this time definitely wasn't coming from Lucy, unfortunately... Oh, to be able to sleep through anything like the dogs can.

Saturday Gamblers: Not really our best run ever, though much better than Walter's first ever run here last year - just watched the video of that run again and it's frigging hilarious - we must have had a thousand faults! Anyway, back to this weekend: Opening was okay but his confidence wasn't there for the mini, and then for the main he was sure the fact that the tunnel was snaked under the dogwalk meant that he was to take the offcourse dogwalk after the tunnel. Oh well.

Saturday Snooker: The darned weaves were #5 so I had to decide whether to run for the safe Q in case he botched the weaves which would mean 4 7s and a very choppy course, or just say what the heck, go for a nice flowing course and see what happens at the weaves. I went for the latter and lo and behold, he did all of the weaves! and finished the course in time. Yay! Q.

Saturday Jumpers: (Video below) Rats, in watching the video back it looks like I went way too deep in the pocket of the pinwheel at the start of the run and pushed him off the far jump. Later on I watched as he headed toward the offcourse tunnel and didn't call him off it in the interest of keeping his motivation up. But then he had a weird spaz moment when something outside the ring (no idea what) caught his attention. Bizarre!

Sunday Snooker: Weaves #6. Decided again to just go for a flowy course, come what may at the weaves. This time he entered at the second pole and then popped at the end, so no cigar.

Sunday Jumpers: (Video below) Walter came flying out of that chute and I did a crappy job of telling him where to go next so we totally missed the jump after the chute. Would probably help if I actually practiced leadouts and being in the right place for them, but leadouts with Walter The Creep are such a headache, in more ways than one! Anyway for the rest of the run I ran mostly silently to focus on body language and was pleased with how he responded to that.

Sunday Gamblers: Missed both minis, then on the main had trouble with a send ahead to a tunnel. The judge blew the whistle but then realized she shouldn't have so we got a rerun. Better with the opening this time, and managed with some difficulty to get the tunnel in the main and got a Q, our first Gamblers Q this year! The main gamble was a go-on jump to far-away tunnel (a known problem for us), then layered jump and a tire. After he took the first jump he turned around, but I held my ground and what a good dog, he turned back around to take the tunnel instead of backjumping toward me. Probably 90% of the dogs got this gamble no problem. There are some drawbacks to not having a tunnel suck!

I didn't feel like hassling people to film most of our runs but did want to see our Jumpers to see how he's handling the jumps (seemed choppy in Jumpers at Nationals) and what my handling is like, so thanks to Indy's human and a kind stranger, here they are:

He looked comfy with the 22" jumps so no plans yet to drop him to 16". Very glad I stuck to my plan to not "fix" mistakes. Overall I was very happy with how he ran this weekend. That's my Walta-boy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At least I didn't forget the tent

Monday we packed up and headed off for our annual two-night camping trip at Sandypants.

We were about two hours into the three hour drive when it struck me that somehow I had managed to forget to bring the dogwalking bag that comes along every time I leave the house with the dogs. No big deal, it just had some poop bags in it. And the dogs' haltis. And my camera, cell phone, and wallet. Fortunately the gas tank was full and I had about $30 cash on hand and lots of poop bags in the car. Had also packed some spare anti-pull collars/harnesses, otherwise the lack of haltis would have been the dealbreaker. Wallet -- who needs it? Anti-pull shoulder-saving dogwalking devices -- gotta have 'em. As for the camera, well, it turned out to be kind of liberating not feeling obligated to dig it out every time the dogs struck a pose, and besides, the photos would have been no different from the ones from last year.

Fortunately the trip was pleasantly uneventful, so the lack of cell phone and wallet wasn't a problem though I wouldn't recommend leaving them at home.

The weather couldn't have been better:

Usually we go earlier in the summer, but this time the water was much warmer and the water level was low so we could easily wade across the mouth of the Outlet. The early sunset was nice, and the nights weren't nearly as cold as I thought they might be.

Our site neighbours were all quiet - woo hoo! So no blasting stereos or drunken partying into the night. The only sound we heard at night was snoring, but I realized the second night that it was coming from Lucy!

All in all it was a relaxing trip, but maybe next year it will be time to try somewhere different. Not sure anywhere can compare to the dunes though... that's always my favourite part of Sandypants.