Video from DASH trial, Odds and Ends

Nothing much exciting to report from the weekend, so I’ll finally post our not-so-pretty Open Standard Q from a few weeks ago. The best part is Pete’s under-his-breath commentary, especially the muttering “What’s his deal?” as Forest runs off to glare at the photographer about three-quarters the way through.

Quiet time for a few more weeks until we get back into the swing of things in mid-September. Class will start up again on the weekly program and I signed us up for a Jennifer Crank seminar as well. That weekend also had a trial I planned on going to—debating whether or not we could handle a full day seminar and a full next day of trialing. I guess it wouldn’t be any different than a weekend of trialing? I dunno… have a few more days to marinate on that one.

Also closely watching the California SB 250 Mandatory Spay and Neuter bill that is up for vote for the fourth time this week. Was for it before I really looked into it, now am thinking its not such a good idea. So much so that I actually sent 15 faxes this morning to all the Democratic assemblymembers who voted against it, asking them to abstain and not change their votes as they are the ones who will be pushed to switch sides. We shall see what happens. Will write more opinion on that fiasco as we see how it all falls out.

Until then…

Things I Love Thursday, Take One

In the spirit of being positive, and maybe under the influence of a new “motivational” book I have been reading/working in, I am jumping on the “day of the week” posting themes with “Things I Love Thursday.” Hopefully we’ll stick with dog- and agility-related stuff, but I am sure I wont be able to resist throwing in some odds and ends as well. Here goes the virgin voyage:

Dogged Goodness:

Acana Grasslands Kibble — I have been experimenting with the boys, and so far this has been the best. Eating the food is never a problem in our house, its the exit that causes us issues. Mainly with Diego. Seems to come out all okay, no drama, and Diego’s coat looks especially amazing. (On a side note, I need to tape a huge reminder in the kitchen somewhere that says “Do Not Experiment with Diego’s Dinner.” I was all thinking I was super-dog-mom last night and cooked up a scrambled egg, canned salmon, brown rice and parsley omelette for them for dinner. It was scarfed up in seconds flat, with pitiful looks for second servings after. Yet, Diego was not a happy camper this morning and had his first ever accident in my office. Yay for scrubbing half-digested brown rice off of office carpet. My own fault.)

– Forest’s new collar from All Hounds Apparel — he has the tiger stripe one, rawr. It makes me feel better when he pulls on walks like a maniac.

– 2×2 weave training! — We aren’t really “done”, or even close to done, but I think it is going to be soooo hugely helpful in getting Forest to weave independently of me. He seems to really get it, and doesn’t seem at all confused (I was worried that he might be with already “knowing” how to weave, but no issues whatsoever.) Laurie also caught me babysitting his weave entries in class last week, so I need to work on that too. But, so far, I think this is going to make both of us way more confident. Hooray for “systems” that work.

Non-Dog Good Stuff:

mint.com — I have always sucked at managing my money. I pay bills on time, but I am no stranger to a bounced checking account either. Mint is free, online, and helps you track and manage your finances without a lot of effort. I am finding it pretty easy to keep up with, and its really helping me budget and visually see where I am spending too much money. (Ummm, are you shocked the number one red flag is my “Pets” category? Of which agility is a sub-category? Its not pretty, but at least I know I have a problem. Thats the first step, right?)

– hand-me-downs from my grandmother. People probably think I am creepy, but I love that I have been able to have a few things from Nanie that remind me of her on a daily basis. A few of her button-down shirts, necklaces and rings that I wear, a super-retro-regency dolphin soap dish I use for my jewelry, the cricket cage that my sister and I used to play with on the nightstand in the kids bedroom. It makes me feel like she is still around, and I know she would love for me to have those little pieces of her.

White Buffalo — going to see him tonight again, this time with a full band. I dont have much patience for shows these days, but for him, I do. Amazing.

Heading out to the Dogs Allowed to Be Dogs Place tomorrow evening for a car camp out. From there I have to get up and out reasonably early on Saturday AM for more wedding festivities. As in I have to make it from the remote campsite, to a shower and a hairdryer, and to a nice restaurant wearing—as per the invite—a purple or green outfit by 11:30am. Joy oh, joy, this will be fun. I think I can pull it off at this point, but, we’ll see how it goes.

Tired

The posting has been sparse unfortunately, due to my lack of motivation and energy. My plans of doing a Rally Fun Match with Diego were thwarted, and instead I had a weekend full of family bickering and post-grandparents aftermath. It is getting ugly. Over the stuff. There is a lot of stuff to be had and its just getting gross. I thought I could be a referee, but I have decided to bow out of that mess.

Diego and Forest, less-than-impressed with family drama as well. Side note–when we were kids, these were the “death stairs”. One wrong step and you were catapulting down the sheer drop, praying you didnt land on a concrete corner. Diego used them as his personal stairmaster this weekend.

That and we watched “Up in the Air” last night—which was a lovely movie but that, compounded with my weekend full of stuff-arguing makes me want to quit my job, throw the dogs in the car and get the hell out of Dodge. Where on earth we would go, not sure, but it would be nice. Maybe to Joshua Tree, or Hurricane or Buffalo, preferably with a Scamp in tow?

In agility news, Forest’s running Aframe contacts and 2x2s are both coming along nicely. I need to map out my Fall agility schedule now that we _hopefully_ should be out of the figurative heat by the end of next month. Though with how wonky this Summer has been we could have an endless heat wave into December…

I am going to start a Scamp fund.

Weekend Update — DASH AKC Trial

Another trial under our belt, another weekend of agony and victory. Well ok, neither really, just a lot of mediocre honestly.

The best part was having a trial so close to home; that was really, really nice. Made things a lot more relaxing. Plus, this was the first trial I went to under Laurie’s stewardship, and it was great. Not only to have someone to give feedback, but to feel a little less like my own dingy at sea and a little more part of a supportive group. Also a lot of people came up from SD, so it was a trial with lots of familiar faces.

I really liked one of the judges. I timed a few classes on Saturday—and I was not so hot at it. The Standard class I don’t think I flubbed (plus my scribe was seasoned crusty veteran and a total riot), but when it came to timing FAST, I was a disaster. I will claim that I wasnt the complete reason for the trainwreck that was Open FAST, but lets just say I didnt help the situation either. Thankfully the judge had a sense of humor—she gave me sass, but in a good way. If she hadnt been such a good sport, I would have been completely mortified (instead of just mostly).

Overall, Forest was very good. He still gets in these situations with a ton of stimulation, and his little brain cells start to short out on him. But, he keeps his composure for the most part and at least we are getting through courses without him totally checking out on me—at least these days if I lose him, I can get him back (except for with exceptionally loud gate persons, see below).

Saturday was a long day, between me delivering coffee at 7am and being in the last class of the day—Novice FAST. Our Open STD was first. We had a rough start thanks to me—after sitting through three rounds of Excellent as timer, I still managed to start before they gave me the “Ready”. Dumb ass. They let me reset and start again. I dont remember much about the run except that he nailed his weaves on the first try (Hooray!) and then blew his contact on the Aframe. Thats okay. That is fixable for us if I just pay attention (and we are working on running contacts, so no biggie).

Open JWW was not good. The gate guy is this huge dude who screams/bellows at the top of his lungs. We actually have been around this guy before, but Saturday Forest said “No way Mom. This guy blows.” I could tell he was melting down right before we were going in. Shit. I took him out there, we made it over three jumps with his tail tucked between his legs, and he bolted past the weaves to the opposite end of the arena. He was really, really scared, stood there shaking. I just walked over and picked him up and carried him out. It took him a while to recover from that one. I felt really bad, and if I knew what his triggers were I would be more careful, but they seem pretty random. Or maybe I am just starting to catch on… I guess the two fear meltdowns we’ve had a trials both have been noise-based, so something to watch out for. Laurie also said I did the right thing by getting him out of there and not pushing him in that state. It was good to get some validation on that front too.

I elected to do FAST on Saturday only. Which in hindsight I am glad we did—not only because we got 3rd place and a Q—yay! But, because it gave me the opp to get Forest back in the ring and to fix that bailed contact. He did everything perfectly, including the send—it was Novice, so it was very easy, but I was still proud of him as distance work is not our strong suit. We went under time just about perfectly, but now that I really understand how it works, I’ll probably be more aggressive next time getting more points! So, at least we ended on a high note.

Sunday was fine too. Back into JWW first, and thankfully Mr. Town Crier was nowhere to be seen. The judge however (the one I liked) was standing—with her enormous sun hat and purple “frock” directly in the sightline from the start. He bolted straight to her, gave her a hard stare, then came back to me and we went on. Missed the first weave entry, got it, then somehow missed a fence in a pinwheel (?!?) but it was fluid and I didnt see the point of backtracking so we just went on. Again, I got back up for making the right call so that was good. Laurie did comment though that I forced him into a sit on the start and that she saw him start stressing immediately from it. Interesting, and something I obviously was not aware of.

So, onto Standard Open. I actually do have video of this, will try to sneak it in here shortly. Unfortunately the video misses the first few seconds and our start—I left him in a stand stay, not knowing if he would—but after a violent shaking episode (one of his standard stress quirks) we were off and I even got the tunnel entry I was worried about. I missed a front cross but snuck in a rear instead. Perfect table and both contact obstacles, then the weaves. The video is quite funny—you see him enter, then turn back too quickly and slam himself into that second pole. Even the judge kinda laughed and commented “That pole bit him!” It took a minute to get him rebooted, but he did like a champ, then I flubbed the pinwheel and got him to add in another jump. Then off to glare at the photographer, back on track and a finish. Whew. Somehow we Q’ed with that disaster. Yikes.

Ugh. So, I think our biggest problem at this point is just that we need to do more trials. Get him more used to the chaos, and me more able to concentrate while on course. I think my goal is 10 trials this year–so we have 5 to go. The weather will be cooling down and I think we’ll be able to do it. If I can get into Excellent JWW by the end of the year, I’ll be happy. For some reason Standard is so much more doable for us, probably because we have time to be more thoughtful about everything.

Not sure when our next outing will be, but time to start planning now! At this rate I would not be surprised if our non-Summer reared its annoying head and decided to be hot well into fall, but I hope not. Cool weather makes speedy dogs.

Sketches, Motivation and Goals

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

I stumbled across the Sketchbook Project last week while blog browsing. I think I clicked on it mainly because the graphic was so cool, which was weird in and of itself–I am a marketing/advertising person and it is a rare day I click on something that is obviously an ad. But, turns out, its a very cool concept. Pick your theme, send in $25, get a blank sketchbook that has a bar code with your name on it, fill it up by Jan 15th, send it back and have it included with all the others in a traveling art exhibition. Now I have not been an “artist” since I graduated college over a decade ago, but I thought it was a fun concept and hoped it would motivate me into some drawing. My theme is “day in the life,” which will make it pretty easy for me to pick subjects. I am good at sleeping dogs, flowers, still life type things. Boring probably, but hey, I am good at boring.

In other motivation news, I have officially started training Diego with competing in a Rally trial in mind. There’s actually a fun match down south next weekend, which is probably waaaay too early for us, but, we’ll see. I figure as long as I can have treats on me, we’ll muddle through it. He is SO happy to play along, and I think for him at this point, any one-on-one attention helps improve his self esteem. He is such a sensitive, dramatic little weirdo… I am still figuring him out after three years.

We have our “beach trial” this weekend, only 7 miles from our house!!! Woot! So that will be nice. Not that we’re necessarily ready, but whatever. I also am being a good girl (*ahem*) and am doing some volunteering. Two timing jobs and getting the coffee to the trial by 7am both days. I figure no one can hate the coffee person as long as they show up on time! Plus I figure that way I can pack the car, get and deliver coffee, set my crap up, then go home and get Forest or have Pete deliver him when its closer to our go time. He does not do well sitting at a trial all day so the proximity makes it a little easier. Laurie will also be there and said to be sure to let her know when we were going. Hooray for trainer support.

We are doing FAST on Saturday only. I dont think they have a whistle, right? I hope not. After our UKI whistle meltdown, I’ll pull him from the class before I make him live through the screaming terror that is the judge’s whistle again…

Also been working on 2x2s at home with Forest, its been going well. We’ll see if it helps this weekend or not, hard to say.

Wish us luck…

All Grows-ed Up

We had a lovely dog-filled weekend which thankfully set us back right side up after the disasters of weekend last. On Friday AM we had a private lesson, on Saturday a Fun Match and today we drove down to the Fallbrook property for some full on dog time.

We love going out to Fallbrook. Its a long drive from where we are now, but we have access to about 50 private acres so it makes it worth the trip when we can find the time. I tend to avoid it in the summer as now is peak season for heat, nasty stickers, and rattlesnakes, but thankfully none were out in force today–especially the snakes! I actually plan on seeing snakes out there this time of year but today we were snake-free. I hope to never have to test Forest’s rattlesnake training aptitude, even if it means those few shocks were in vain (I still feel horrible to this day about the snake aversion training I put him through, but hope that it can save his life if he ever has a face off with a rattler).

Working on my video editing skillz on iMovie. Can’t figure out how to fade the music at the end… Abrupt ending!

Snakes aside, its one of the few places I feel okay about letting Forest off leash. We are so far from roads or other dogs and our biggest problem is if he spots a rabbit to bolt off after. Its been a bit since we’ve been out there, and we really have been pretty uptight about not letting him off leash anywhere unfenced these days. I worried that that would backfire—but it seems to have done the opposite. Knock on wood, but he was a star today. He was so lovely and stuck with us, we only lost him charging off the trail once, which in itself was a small miracle. And, he came back almost immediately—within 30 seconds. That is so huge for us.Pete has been getting much better about rewarding him for coming as well and we have made a habit of not going anywhere he may be off leash without cookies in our pockets.

He has been such a good boy lately I hate to admit we keep asking/wondering if he might not be feeling well or something. He doesn’t seem lethargic or upset or “off'”, so assuming all is fine, we aren’t complaining. It’s like he just decided all of a sudden to be a “big boy”.  He seems to have settled and maybe a little less obsessed with what else is “out there” in the world, and a little more content to be hanging out with us. It is a good feeling.

On the agility front, we had a good private and fun match—except for the weaves. We seem to have regressed somewhat in that front, probably because learning by channel weaves isnt the best for teaching them independence. If I dont set him up perfectly, he blows the entry. So, we’ll be starting some 2×2 training this weekend and cross our fingers that we can get through at least a few sets of weaves in Open next weekend at our trial. We also have been working on running contacts on the A-frame with the “box”. Its going really well and Laurie said she was impressed with how he was doing on that front.

Monday morning… Ergh.

“Kick Me”

I hope it goes away soon, but I am living through one of those periods where I feel like the universe had taped a big “Kick Me” sign to my back that everyone else can see but me…

Lets just say we had a rough weekend. I’ll skim over acts one and two (Friday involved me unearthing shady stuff goings on by a colleague of mine, and Saturday was my grandfathers wake, which was as fine as it could have been but was still a funeral), and focus on act three as it is the most pertinent to my writings here.

As I mentioned recently, I have been thinking about possibly getting a purebred dog next time around. So, being the Obsessive Compulsive researcher that I am, I have hunted down and been corresponding with a Manchester Terrier breeder. She was polite when I reached out to her inquiring about her dogs and making it clear I am not in the market for a puppy now but that I am doing prelim research a few years down the road. She and I have been trying for a few weeks to schedule some time to meet—she has a litter of puppies (all spoken for) that she wanted me to meet before they went, so time was of the essence. After much back and forth we finally settled on this weekend to meet. She would be in Lompoc for a dog show with the sire, dam and all the puppies. I was excited.

I left directly from the family event last night and pointed it north on the 101 towards Lompoc. Since I waited til the last minute there were no cheap hotel rooms in town left so I had to book a room about a half hour outside of town. I always have a little sense of adventure when staying at roadside motels—its a total crapshoot whether they are cute and quaint or total dives. I got in around 11:30, and unfortunately for me, this place was a D.U.M.P. Whatever, I have stayed in worse and lets just say I was motivated to get out of bed in the morning. I headed back towards Lompoc, found a Starbucks and the showgrounds without incident. I was feeling good, on my little solo adventure.

I had confirmed with the breeder her show time and the ring she would be in. So I got there about a half hour early, found the ring and set up my chair, drank my coffee. Chatted with another lady who was there to watch her Australian Terrier (have you ever seen one of those? eeek!!). She shared her schedule with me and I was indeed at the right time at the right place. When the Standard Manchesters came on, there was only one dog. I assumed it was who I was looking for as they had assured me they would be there. After he did his little go round and left the ring, I approached him and asked him if he was “Bob Smith”.

“Who?”

“Bob of Smith Kennels?”

“Hah! No!”

Beginning to stammer… “Uh, erm, okay. Um, well do you know Bob Smith? Is he here?” (I was under the impression that all these people knew each other and maybe even might be friendly with one another…)

“He must have got tired of me beating him! Har har.”

….what the… I tried to pull myself together. I stumbled around and looked at the sky for about thirty seconds before figuring maybe the ring steward could maybe help me. I asked her if she did have Bob Smith Kennels as due to be in that class, she said yes, they were a no show. They were here yesterday, but dont know where they are today! Oh, I said. I drove up all the way from far away to meet them… I mumbled.

She at least tried to be sympathetic but by then I was too far gone. I honestly didnt know what to do. I had given her my phone number, but she never offered hers in return. I figured if she said she’d be there…

She also had mentioned she would be at another ring later on for the toy Manchesters (though they don’t breed the Toys so I was somewhat confused by that). I hemmed and hawed about whether tp stay or leave… Thankfully at least this was a sighthound specialty show, so I watched the greyhounds and borzois do their bit and also wandered around in the booths. I found and bought a nice sighthound-style collar for a good price which I have been wanting to get for Forest. Regardless, I was still pretty agitated and upset.

I managed to hang on ’til the toys went, though I really wanted to just bolt. After my earlier experience with the Standard ring D-bag I was gun shy to talk to anyone. I perched myself just outside of the ring almost right on top of the four people showing their toy MTs, watching and listening for anyone that could have been from or related to Bob Smith Kennels. I got especially annoyed watching one women whose dog was unable to walk on all four legs in a straight line. I was growling to myself internally at this point; Jesus H Christ lady, get a clicker, its not that hard!!!

That combined with the sudden feeling I was at a toddler beauty pagent started making me feel sick. I half-heartedly sidled up to the competitors post-class but they didnt want to seem to have anything to do with anyone else and at that moment I had had enough. It was weird and icky and I was over it, big time.

I got in the car and drove 4 hours home. I was very, very glad to see my quiet old house and my mutty-mutt gorgeous happy dogs. Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me I don’t need a purebred dog. I don’t know. But, I am in no hurry and things will sort themselves out. Chalk this one up as another experience in the life of a crazy dog lady. Forever the learning experience I guess, huh?