Quickie Update

This week has been crazy between dog stuff, work and side-work stuff and Pete leaving town, so not much time for a proper post.

Monday night was great. Forest was meellllllooooww, thanks to running his brains out the afternoon before. And he was very, very good. Our standard course we would have Q’ed for sure. Missed first weaves entry but then nailed it, and he had his super-fast-pants on. I had to actually run to keep up with him on the dog walk and he even pretty much ran down the AF which was awesome. I was very proud of him. Jumpers wasnt as pretty, but entirely my own fault. The second course had four front crosses in it and I made a total mess of it. Oh well. She tends to give us harder courses than I *think* we’ll have at the novice level, so I can only hope that we’ll have a fairly easy time once we get into the trialing phase.

New Trainer tomorrow evening, looking forward to it.

Prepping and cooking tonight so we’ll have plenty o’ time to pack for our “travel” weekend. Staying with my Dad and stepmom as our trial is way down in South San Diego. We’ll stay with them on Friday and Saturday night which will be fun. My sister will also be there, so I hope to get to have some quality family time squeezed in too. Plus my parents have a new kitty—about 4-5 months now—and he is too cute. I need my kitty fix. Not really reminding too many people down there about my trial, I don’t want to be too distracted. I know I’ll be a stress case, at least on Saturday. The only people “allowed” on Saturday are my mom, Pete, and my BFF from 6th grade who I grew up riding with. Everyone else is barred!

AND, I volunteered to set jumps on Sunday for a few classes. Agility Hell has been held off by a thread.

In Random Dog News: Connecticut Humane Society busted for shady practices, including euthanizing dogs for behavioral problems such as seperation anxiety. Both my dogs would have been toast. Eek, eek, eek.

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Super-Agility Extravaganza Kick Off Weekend!

Well, extravaganzatastic to me anyway. Yesterday we did Lure Coursing with the little luratic, class tonight and Thursday, our first trial Saturday and Sunday, two more classes, then a UKI trial/match on the following Saturday. Whew.

Note to self: Avoid any trials we want to compete in that have Lure Coursing on site. Our first go last month was probably like the first time one imbibes in a new substance. It may make one feel a little funny, but you arent sure what all the fuss is about. Then the second time, now that you sorta know the drill–WHAMO! Out of your mind.

That’s how Forest was yesterday. This time, the instant that lure fired up and we were on the outside of the course, he started that high-pitched insane dog squeal and started thrashing around like a fish on the line. I took him in for round one, and the girl asked “I cant remember is he fast or medium?” I said I wasnt sure, but the second he took off she said, “Oh yeah, he’s definitely fast!” He was waaay faster this time, which she said was typical. After two runs, he was seriously out of his mind for another hour, even after a cool down walk and being quiet in his crate in the back of the car. However, mission accomplished; he slept in this morning and didnt budge when I snuck out the door for work.

The photog said she got some good shots of him this time, so I hope to have something cool to post up here.

Tonight class at the “first” trainer’s place. She was at the AKC Nationals all weekend, so we’ll hear some good stories I am sure.

I also ended up downloading the Agility iLog app for my iPhone. I think I already love it. Its so simple, menus all right there, totally intuitive on how to navigate around in it. Looking forward to putting it to use over the next few weeks!

And, a news hit on a LA Pet-Store-Turned-Rescue Shop! Good stuff.

Tech Dork Excitement!

…I was wondering when someone was going to get off their arse and make an agility tracker iPhone app. Well its here!

Dog Agility iLog

I literally just stumbled across it, but cant wait to download and start playing around. I really hope its easier than Agility Record Book. That program is WAAAAAY over my head. I am hoping with all my heart that this one is a little more user friendly… fingers crossed.

Okay, just realized… (aka “a little backy-uppy”…)

$18.00!?!?!? Or I mean, $17.99?!??!? Really? Sigh.

Hmmm, now I will actually have to think about it. Will watch the online demo and see if it looks worth it. I really hope it is. If I had spent $18 on ARB I would have asked for my money back.

Geesh. I still think I’ll get it. I’m such a sucker.

Its the New Style.

So, last night was our first night at the “new trainer’s”. Wow. It was so different, overall in a good way. So funny just how opposite people’s methods can be. And I think I am really fortunate how I randomly stumbled into my first trainer to teach me the basics.

My regular classes go like this; Show up to gorgeous, immaculately groomed agility facility. Wait outside of gate until prior class exits AND you are specifically told to come in. Leash/lash up dogs in doggie parking zone. Get info/news/opinions/tid bits from week prior (this is usually helpful info, but sometimes when there are 6 or 7 people in a class it stresses me out b/c I know any talking means less training). Go walk course with trainer. She usually suggests what she would do as we are walking course, but minimal directions or dissections on body position or handling minutiae. Everybody goes back, runs the course. When you run the course, if you screw up, you can go back and do that part, but once youre done youre done, cause there’s a long line waiting for their turn. If you screw up, you may or may not get specific input on what happened. If its clear handler eff-up, you may even get a very strong correction from trainer. If its ambiguous, you may get nothing at all. Class ends promptly on the hour, and everyone is ushered out. Since I go to the Late Late class, usually I can corral her for a few minutes of questions (which I inevitably have). If they are related to agility in general, I get good answers. If its related to “Why is my dog crazy?” I usually get blank stares. Which to her credit I guess isnt really her problem.

She is very cut-and-dried, and she has been teaching for a long time. So I understand that she has things down to a system. However, there is minimal warm fuzzies. Which is fine 90% of the time, but when I am really struggling and think I will off myself for being the crappiest handler in the world, a little encouragement would be nice. Once in a while. But again, I think we made the absolute right choice to start out with.

So, the “New Style.” First impressions anyway. Agility “field” is in backyard of a cute little beach house, complete with sitting area with patio furniture. Lots of trainer’s dogs all about, corralled on the deck, in the house, peering through windows at you. Only 2 other people in my class last night, including a 3lb Chihuahua. Freaking adorable. Everyone settles in, trainer plays and cuddles with student dogs, compliments Forest on his stunning good looks and athleticism. Asks if we specifically chose him from the pound as an agility prospect (hah! If only I knew then…).

We do small yet very intense sequences–Ack. Serpentines and threadles and push throughs, oh my. And yet all was very casual. Talk of Pam Anderson’s hair. Pete happened to go with me, so while I was going he was drilled by dog ladies about “what breed? what pound? how old is he? how many teeth does he have?”( Pete is a sport, btw.) So I ran my not-so-pretty drills, and I got encouraged, and dissected and very specifically told EXACTLY where to put my feet, and point my hands, and I need to be WAY closer to the jumps, and its okay to be ahead, and oh my god my head might explode. But it was good. And if I effed up, I did it again, and again, and by the end I wasnt freaking out about wasting time. Because we went over, way over, and everyone seemed to be perfectly happy.

We learned a lot. And it was good. I think we’ll be back. I hope I’m not jinxing myself by going to 2 different trainers immediately before my first trial. Not that I’ll remember anything when I am out there anyways…. Hah.

Oh, and looks like we’ll be doing some lure coursing this weekend. Run Forest Run.

Thursday Linktastic-ness

I actually am legitimately surfing the intrawebs today for animal sites, doing media research for an upcoming charity event my work is putting on in May. (I had no idea the LA Times has an “Unleashed blog”.  Lots of good stuff on there…) Found a good one from today;

Eeegads on so many levels…

In other news, we are heading out to our first training session with the new trainer tonight. She has a much smaller area than we are used to practicing in so it will be interesting to see how that goes. Sequences instead of full courses… I am feeling kinda zoned out today, hopefully I can perk up pre-class. At least its only a 30 minute drive instead of over an hour!

We also got our confirmation for our first trial! We are official. And it looks like there are a million dogs before us, which is good and bad. I will undoubtedly be having horse show flashbacks with the whole hurry-up-and-wait process that will undoubtedly happen. That’s okay, part of the fun, right? ….right???

Introducing “Forest 2.0”–aka Velcro dog! WTF?

It was an interesting night. And, once again, I proved my own theory firsthand that if I am out of sorts on agility night, that it all goes down the tubes.

I tried to take it easy yesterday, as I got home from the East Coast on Sunday evening. Tried to sleep in but my internal time clock is extra wonky between going three timezones East and Daylight Savings. Only worked for a few hours and wasn’t rushed, but also squeezed in a meet with some of my favorite couple-friends-from-out-of-town who are also preggers. I had to take the time to go see them, but Forest was cooped up in the car for quite a while between the drive and our hour-plus visit. He also was pooped from being out in the desert with Pete all weekend and hadnt done a lick of agility since last Monday. Sigh. Oh, AND, I somehow thought it was a good idea to have a glass of wine, despite the fact that I had been falling asleep on the drive down. Genius!

Actually our Standard course wasn’t half bad. A few bumbles of my own doing and a funny decision by F to come off the dogwalk 3/4 of the way down the ramp and do a 2o2o with his ass way up in the air. I pulled him off and made him come down the ramp again. Oh, and he bumped his head on one of the weave poles (not hard) and kinda surprised himself I think. Funny. Overall decent though.

Then Jumpers. Which I was so excited for as it had been a while. But, alas, I got ahead of myself. Apparently as we went on through two go-rounds, he was looking at me—really fixating on—more and more. He is usually really good about me sending him on over jumps, but by then end he was totally quitting on me. Anne finally said at the end–somewhat exasperated; “He’s looking at you! He’s looking at you instead of the jumps!”

Ugh.

In my quest to get him to pay attention to me instead of bail for things more interesting, I have now got him completely fixated on me. Gah. To his credit, I did kinda forget to feed him his dinner, though I thought the treats would be filling him up. Maybe not. Regardless, I guess its a good thing as now I know he can go to both ends of the spectrum, just how to manage it.

In light of that, we are testing out a new trainer up here this week too. My current trainer is great with foundation stuff and teaching the dogs to do each obstacle correctly. She is also good at basic handling, but I feel like once things get more complicated—esp. when it hinges on behavioral issues—she really doesn’t offer up much advice. So, I am hoping this new person can help me more in that realm. I feel I am pretty good at analyzing things before and after, but I am just not experienced enough yet to make quick decisions on my own.

I am looking for an agility mentor… any one out there?

About as “Un-Agility” as You Can Get

Here I am in New York City. On St. Patrick’s Day. Eek.That was most definitely not planned. At least me wanting to be here on a holiday was not planned. But it happened. Apparently the ‘ol St. Paddy’s day is a really freakin’ big deal here. I had no idea.

I am hopping around town meeting magazine editors for my real job. Some are cool, some not so much. I was waiting in the lobby for one of the “not-so-much” types and got to hear some gems of conversation from junior editors of a huge women’s magazine. It was so pathetically unprofessional I’ll refrain from repeating it. Just bad.

However, it reminds me that the older I get and the more experience I have that the more I realize that most businesses are run and staffed by people no “better” than me—as in not more professional, not more educated, etc. I always play mind games in my head about how poeple who are higher up the food chain or further along in life must somehow be smarter or savvier than I, but I know at the end of the day thats not really the case.

Same for agility. Maybe others have been doing it longer, but I think I have a pretty good handle on it. Agility is the one thing I am truly excited about these days. I am working towards my 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell says it takes to be a true “expert” in anything. Unfortunately my hours are on hold until next Monday.

Until then there will be sirens and subways, Dean & Deluca cupcakes and drunk Irishmen, and probably a few more snotty editors. I heart NY.