There’s a First Time For Everything…

…and this weekend’s first was that we were 0 for 4!!! Woot. AND, we did not get ONE, not one, single set of weaves all weekend! Hip hip hooray! But after stewing and brewing on the sticky 2 hour drive home yesterday, I’ve decided to dwell on the positive.

– We did have probably the nicest JWW run we’ve ever had. I dont know what my deal is with JWW—probably that its non-stop and I never have that half-second of regroup time on a contact or a table to reset my brain. Think on your feet woman!!! We blew the weaves, retried, still blew them but just I kept going. The opening had a tough front cross-to small send-to front/rear cross sequence, and I have to say I think I handled it really well. It was pretty tight, and Forest is so athletic as long as he knows what I want he can mange just about anything. We ran well enough that one of the jump setters told me after the fact that that was a really nice run. Thanks jump setter guy, you have no idea how badly I needed that!!! I really think the Jenn Crank seminar did wonders for my handling confidence.

– Forest handled the heat relatively well. It must have been mid-to-high 80’s but he never really checked out on me or shut down. I was vigilant about keeping him in the shade, and I was constantly wetting him down with ice water. We went through my frozen cottage cheese cups of water on day one, but thanks to the hotel, we came back on day two with ice machine offerings that worked out just as well. He definitely was not revved up before we went in—he was focused, but not revved—and I think that was due to the heat. However, again, he stayed with me 90% of the time and that was huge.

– I did my first go as gate steward, and if I do say so myself, I rocked it. I have no fear of being the uber-organized-demanding-get-your-butt-over-here-boss-lady. In a nice way. No one got upset with me, so I must have not been too mean. Or if I was, they didnt tell me to my face! One of the show organizers came over and said “man, you guys are movin’ over here.” I took the credit, telling her about my whip cracking ways. She laughed and said, thats how you do it! So maybe I will be in Open forever, but I will have a job as a ring steward.

So, it was a productive weekend, even if it wasnt the most glory-filled. Small victories, a fun adventure on our own, a few pounds lost through sweat. We have an insane October on our plate, none of which includes agility. I will need to get creative, and disciplined, to keep things on track. Laurie has a weaves rehab class, but I am not sure if/when we’ll even be able to make it. The two weddings, one in Hawaii, over the next three weeks are going to put a serious cramp in my training. No more trialing, again, until November. Ergh. I hope someday we can get trialing on a consistent basis, but that whole real life thing keeps getting in the way. And it could get worse before it gets better; its looking likely I may get a new job. Which is awesome in the greater scheme of things but again, maybe not so much for agility. We shall see.

Another one on the books.

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Paging Dr. Phil… We Need a Weave Intervention!!!

Yeah, our weaves suck. Other than that, we did just fine. But we are about to graduate into Excellent Standard, and our weaves are barely 50-50 at best. We may be in Open JWW forever.

The JWW course was tough. Out of 30+ dogs, only 5 Q’ed, or so I overheard. It had a horrible 90-degree weave entry and I knew it was curtains before we even began. Our Standard course was much more sane, as always, but even with a completely straight shot at the weaves, we still missed them at first try. Ugh. I still think we may have got a Q out of it, which means we have titled out of Open Standard. Yikes.

* edited to add — no Standard Q. Our run past the table and entry from the back may have been what did us in? I don’t know.

The trial site is nice, out a bit in BFE, but on a huge grassy park with minimal distraction (once you get over listening to the announcer for the model race car track!). We are currently holed up in our hotel room, which is quite nice for the $70 internet special I got (and infinitely nicer, and cheaper, than that shit hole hotel I ended up in on my failed dog show mission). The Vagabond Inn is where my family always stayed on our ski trips when I was a kid, so I was partial if only on a purely sentimental basis. Its dog-friendly, clean, lots of grass for potty breaks, and has a fridge! And I Yelped it up, as usual, and found a yummy little pho place for dinner. I got a forward recently about a new agility hotels list, I’ll be sure to put this joint up there.

So, an early night, I’ll be drinking wine and watching Mad Men on the laptop, Forest is already crashed out under the blanket I brought from home. He’s a pretty good traveler as long as I let him sleep on the bed!

I will dream of perfect weaves…

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…

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…

“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?

Happy Sad (and Hot)

So, we dropped Pierre off at his new home last night. On paper, I wasnt sure this guy was going to work out, but once I met him and got to know him decided he was a great fit for Pierre. He is young and a renter (gasp!), but he is very thoughtful and has thought out how he will incorporate a dog into his life well before actually getting the dog. He asked all the right questions, like what size crate to get, what brand of food he eats, what his schedule is. He emailed me a few times over the week asking the status of Pierre as he knew we had other people applying for him as well. We sat with him for an hour last night and went over everything in excruciating detail. He ate it all up.

I was depressed last night when we got home. I missed the busy body little black face buzzing around the table while we ate our half-assed dinner (Round Table bleh). I missed him harassing Forest into playing with him, missed him leaping uninvited 6′ out from the couch into my lap. When we went into our bedroom to call it a night, his crate wasnt in the corner under the window anymore. It made me sad. I had my worry dreams about him all night in and out of consciousness. I miss my little black Bart, but I know this will be the best for him, and I am happy for him.

On the other hand, it is a relief to have a quiet house again with two dogs that know their jobs, know how to ask to go outside, can relax. It seems so quiet, but I think we are ready for that for a while.

We did have a trial this weekend. Forest was tough–I am learning that when it is even close to hot, he quits. I wont even recount the first day, other than it was hot and neither of us handled it well. Yesterday we got to the site, but were backed up by a bunch of traffic due to a brushfire that had broken out across the street. Sweet!!! Helicopters were buzzing the trial all afternoon dumping water and fire stuff on the hillside.

Our first JWW was a repeat of the day before (multiple off courses and me deciding to bow out only halfway through), but by some miracle of god and some unfathomable sucky handling we got through standard with a 100. With helicopters buzzing us while on course. No joke. He got up on the table as they were directly overhead and I thought to myself—this is the end—but pretended like it was the best thing ever, and we made it all the way through, nailing the weaves and all. This dog baffles me. Or maybe I baffle him. I have no idea. But, we got our first open Q. Go us.

Other best parts of the trial were having my BFF and sister there on Saturday. BFF and sister and I grew up riding horses and going to school together, so it was awesome to have her there. She is my one of 2 girlfriends who I can talk to about agility because she’s stuck with me for this long, she’s not going to ditch me now for being crazy dog lady. And moms came yesterday, made us lunch and iced tea. It was nice having a support crew.

Updating will be sporadic this week. I have a crappy work week and will be jamming to catch up on everything I have been procrastinating on for the last month. I have been really, really bad at work recently, and I am about to catch hell for it. My boss is a whack job, but I am also digging my own grave. I need to get back on track. Less dog blog reading and writing, more selling the magic of expensive sunglasses! Cant wait…