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.


Slow Summer

The posting has definitely slowed down around here, mainly because I/we’ve been moderately busy in non-dog activities, but also because on the dog front things have just kind of been cruising. I decided to skip trialing in July and August—with the exception of one local beach-climate trial—to both give a break and just flat out avoid putting ourselves into any sort of heat-related melt down situations. Plus, the budget could use a bit of a break too. I guess I should say the funds are still being spent, just diverted to less um, enjoyable areas (ie. other people’s wedding gifts, wedding travel, car maintenance, etc.).

After next week we also wont have any group classes until September as Laurie hates the heat and the facility for Monday night has no AC. Oh well. That just means I’ll have to take a few privates and get on my own program of practicing before or after work. I have been doing some running box work at home in the patio which is going fine, but for some reason I have a hard time packing all the training crap in the car, driving somewhere to practice, and not being bothered by the weird stares I get. Insecurity Me.

We did have class on Monday night and again Forest did awesome. We did more of a skills class than full courses per usual, so all the dogs were inside the room with the equipment instead of outside. Forest was the only one in his crate as he was the only one with “issues” with other dogs. Other than one incident with a dog coming in and running right up to his crate, he actually did really well in the situation, and had really relaxed by the end. He also is impressing me with his ability to fail and reboot. We are doing so much better in that department, thank you Laurie. We practiced weaves which he did well with, even on some tougher entries, though he still likes me to be nearby. We definitely need some coaching in the driving-thru-weaves independently department. He also hit the A frame at a 100 miles an hour and screamed down the backside, which ended up scaring him a bit but I really tried to praise the hell out of him for it. He is getting fast and it is fun!

As I mentioned in my last post, he also has really changed his personality over the last month or two. He has really relaxed a lot in general, and is becoming more lovey and cuddly. This morning he would not get off my lap and just wanted to love on me. This is totally not normal. I’d say I am worried about him feeling “off” or something, but I feel like its been fairly gradual so I will just keep an eye on him. Having Pierre come in really reorganized the entire dog dynamic in our household—seemingly with Forest for teh better and Diego for the worse.

Diego sort of seems to be coming back to earth. For a while he was a nightmare—marking on everything, being just generally annoying, and he even went after Forest a second time (a la the Palm Springs incident) last week. Not rad. But, I’ve been trying to give him fair attention, and not set us up for that situation, and he seems to be coming back around. Fingers crossed he stays on the happier side of things.

On a completely unrelated note, I just took the dogs to the dog park for lunch. On the way out I saw a Yorkie in a little pink outfit–with a pinch collar on. Seriously? Seriously. This dog could not have weighed 8 pounds soaking wet and it has a pinch collar on? Gross…

Oh, and the weather has regressed to June Gloom… Again. Lame.

Summer, Finally

Its finally hot. Mid-July and all I guess. But its about time. The heat slows down the dogs, which in my book is a good thing.

Diego snoozing, happy to be cuddling on the couch on his very own custom bunnies quilt (thanks Pete’s mom!).

Last night I waited to take the dogs down to the cove until it was almost dark—I figured it’d be cooler by then and we could wear them out with some swimming. Neither of them particularly dig swimming, but I force them to do it anyways, especially Forest. I figure what better way to simultaneously cool him off and wear him out? Diego is so cute when he swims, he looks like a little water mammal, snuffing and snorting and using his tail as a rudder. Forest tears away as soon as he is out of the water (still on his long line of course), up to the dry sand so he can do faceplants and mash as much sand as possible into every orifice on his head. How on earth that is a worthwhile endeavor, I am not clear. But, to each his own. He then violently shakes off, and then does it again. Everyone got multiple towel-dries and a warm bath last night.

It was really pretty last night—in that weird only-in-the-Summer kinda midWesty high humid clouds way. Good sunset, good light.

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, I have no idea why. I laid in bed for a while, finally got up at 5:30. I think it was my obsession keeping me up, the thought of a puppy. No, no, no no no. Not soon. Not soon at all. But in the sorta foreseeable future. Like a year or two. I have been obsessing and thinking and researching. It still might be too early, and I truly don’t know housing-wise where we will end up in the next few years. We cant be squatters forever unfortunately, and we cant really go home to San Diego now as we are both working up here in OC. Bleh. Plus, our mortgage is a lot, and collectively we are not making a lot, and I just don’t know. I can’t sell our condo. Well I can, maybe even should, but the thought pains me dramatically. It is the perfect little old lady house and I will just die if I have to sell it. I want it to be my Last Stop place. Very handicapped and old person friendly. Small, flat, and previously inhabited by both old ladies and blind children. However, not-so-friendly for dogs of more than two in quantity or over thirty pounds in weight. At least according to “The Rulez”. Stupid HOA.

But the puppy. I have a breed in mind and have reached out to the most local breeder—aka the only one in Southern California—listed on the American Breed Club list. Problem is I have to go and obsess on a fairly rare… Whoa… wait, what? Backpedal a second… Yeah, I am thinking about purchasing a puppy. Icky. I said I’d Nah-He-Ever Do THAT. Don’t hate me. I said thinking. From a good, reputable, certified health-testing, small scale well-rounded performance and show dog breeder. And I will be thinking long and hard. And dreaming, and internetting, and waking up too early.

I heart this dog. Even when he steals Diego’s brand new toy. Note the Ikea carpet hairs all over him…

Problem is I actually do want a Forest 2.0. Another shocker I know–I am full of ’em today! And, unless I get into breeding designer dogs, that’s not really an option. And I knooow I’ll never get Forest 2.0, even if I clone his DNA. But, I want to get close. At least in size and type and athletic ability and energy level and sorta maybe a bit personality-wise.He seems to have blossomed in the last month or so into this amazing, lovely, most-special-thing of a dog. Which I have always known was there, and I have no doubts we will backslide, but he is just so, so awesome.

Another agility dog, that I can start from scratch. Just one. But that my friends, may change as my many flitting mindy thoughts often do. Lets check back in a year.

Happy Weekend.

Of Dry Heat and Dog Bites

We were planning on holing up and hunkering down at our place for the long weekend. We knew the family would be invading (which is what happens when you squat in a communally owned house) and that it would be chaotic with the dogs and children and fireworks and general mayhem that goes on here this time of year. My side-biz partner mentioned last week that his wife had got a place out in Palm Springs that was big and a total steal and asked if we wanted to come along, dogs and all. Pete is less-than-a-fan of Palm Springs for the most part, but he quickly jumped on board and we were on, back out to the desert!

That was one of the better decisions we’ve made in a while. Not only did we miss out on fire crackers, potato guns and D-bag boyfriends at our place, but we enjoyed a big, fully-fenced yard, a salt water pool, and the vintage Palm Springs cool factor that makes my heart flutter. Plus, I knew we’d be less likely to be subjected to mass fireworks drama—Diego HATES fireworks. We just layed around in the pool, played with dogs, drank cocktails and made food at home, watched fireworks from the driveway (with Diego melatonined-up, securely crated and adult contemporary blasting along with the AC). We walked around the neighborhoods and lusted over all the ranch houses, napped, read a bit. My biz partner is like my second husband/annoying brother, which is good in that its almost like hanging out with a family member. Minimal obligations or drama. Except for Maddie.

Maddie is a small mixed breed, she looks like a black beagle. She gets along fine with our dogs, she really is of their ilk. Shelter dog, various issues, but leaves them alone. However, she absolutely runs the show in her house. As in, jumps on the dinner table, sleeps on the pillow, gets cookies for every little thing. (In contrast, we are “mean” for crating our dogs.) She will snarl or snap while sitting in her people’s lap. I’ve never really been afraid of her, I dont think she knows what to do with me. However, after a few mimosas I for some reason felt the need to push her buttons. I started roughhousing with her like I do with my dogs—she turned around a nailed me three times within one second on my right arm and hand. No breaking of the skin (miraculously), but I have a wicked bruise on my arm. Nasty. She is a little bitch but I also learned my lesson. There was no reason for me to harass her, the devil made me do it. In some ways I think it was good for them to actually see her do that, maybe it will motivate them to action. Or not. They’ve made a few half-hearted attempts to get her into training, but they never stick with it. Hopefully chomping me is as far as she gets down that road…

Then, strangely, as Forest and I were growly-facing and playing together this morning on the carpet (shag!) Diego came over and inserted himself into the fray, playing with us. Just like we always do. Then next thing I know, he’s bitten Forest in the face—and this was nasty, not a play bite. Again, no blood or wounds, but that one actually shocked me way more than getting bit by Maddie. Diego was swiftly and quietly removed to his crate, and Forest was no worse for the wear other than being a bit of a baby about it (he cant help it, he’s the baby of the family).

So, not sure if I am completely clueless when it comes to dog signals, or if there was bad ju ju at that house or what. Diego is a little weird—he has gotten way more growly over the last year or so. We kind of provoke him and usually the second we stop tickling or touching him he stops. And again today, he came into our space, seemingly with the intent to play, then unleashed on Forest. I have never seen him do that before, it was really weird. So, no more tolerance for growling, and no more provoking. Dog psychiatry anyone?

That aside though, we had a very relaxing weekend. No class this week, and I actually get/have to turn around and head back out to Palm Springs again for a bachelorette party obligation next week. Joy, oh joy. And I mean “obligation”… That one can wait until next week for an explanation.

Happy back to work…

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…