Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kiln Agility Trial and Match - Oct 22,23,24, 2010

Kiln, MS RV park behind Harrison County Arena
Legs Earned:  Maxie: XJ1, XJ2
4 runs, 2 Q's

Hancock County Fairgrounds: Here's our wee little pop up camper (far left), amidst one wing of the big rigs in the RV park at Kiln, MS.  I was the first to arrive on Thursday and chose the end slot so I wouldn't be sandwiched in. It was a good decision.  We felt very much like we had the whole place to ourselves, though we had the longest distance to walk to the arena (far right).

CAMPING NOTES: $15/night. The ground is level. Kiln has no showers this year but there's a lot of construction going on and I heard they are building a bath house. There is a kitchen with a big freezer available, but it is locked up at night.  Need to get your ice out of there shortly after the last run each day.  The bathrooms are in the arena, far away from the campsites, so my portable pottie came in handy. Don't need outdoor carpet.  Nice grassy area under awning is fine.

Weather: We ran the AC during the day (85 degrees) and the heater at night (55 degrees).  Short sleeves were fine.  Didn't sweat at all and it wasn't terribly dusty, so as to bathing, I did fine with just a warm wash cloth, no soap.

Arena: The dirt in the arena was fairly packed and wetted down at night, so minimal dust. There were 2 courses, one for Jumpers, another for Standard, with an aisle down the middle.  Only one at a time was active.  There is no AC but it was not hot.  There was a nice breeze.

John, Willow and Michele
West side is behind us where lots of folks crated.
You can see Loralie's red tent on right.
 Crate Areas:  Lots of people crated on the west side under roof with open sides, near the concessions, but the afternoon sun beat down on that spot.  Loralie even pitched her tent under there and spent 3 nights.  I crated on the East side between the bleachers, nearest the RV park, and it was relatively quiet, no crowding, quite nice, morning sun was not hot.  It was easy to get into the bleachers, but a longer walk to the secretary's table and bathrooms. Forgot to get a picture.  Some people crated at the base of the bleachers but this took up so much space it left little room for people to pass.  There is also crate space at the north side by the horse stalls.

John came with me Thursday and Friday, in his own car. We brought Maxie, Lucky and Willow and we all slept cozily in the camper - Maxie and Willow in our bed and Lucky in the other bed amidst our luggage. We left BR around 9 a.m., arrived Kiln 11 a.m., set up the camper, went into the arena and set up my crate spot and got ready for the 2 p.m. match. The crates being at the bottom of the trunk, everything else has to be offloaded to get to them, which works fine if we set up the camper first, but not if setting up your crates first.  John watched the match on Thursday and most of the trial on Friday, took some of the videos, and left around 3 p.m. Friday.  He took Willow home with him. The photo above was taken with my iPhone, just before he left. Since John's days off are Thursday and Friday, that makes it easy for him to join me in setting up, but difficult for him to stay Sat and Sun.

The RV Experience: Swamp Dog Agility Club, out of New Orleans, took good care of us RV'ers.  Had a Pumpkin Carving on Friday night, with about 6 people, and a Whine and Cheese tasting on Saturday night, with about 15-20 people. Both were fun. Kay and I were the only people from our club there, although everyone was invited. Instead of doing Brags, everyone got to complain about their worst mistake in the trial.  Mine was that I got too cocky.  I only needed one Q in XS to get Maxie's AX title, so I only signed up for 2 runs.  We NQ'd on both!  We Q'd on both XJ runs, so got our first 2 legs in that class, with a 1st place and a 2nd place.  We were signed up for Sunday XJ as well, but I got injured and had to forfeit that run.

Maxie over tripple, Kiln
Videos: I posted all of Maxie's videos, plus all the other 8" dogs Maxie will be competing with in X classes next year, plus something new, photos of the score sheets.  I got to meet more of the handlers -- a talented, experienced bunch.  The videos are here. It takes me 3 days to process, label and upload all the videos I take. The files are huge even though the quality is not very satisfactory.  I'd like a better video camera someday but they are expensive.  Are you listening, Santa Claus?

I usually use a tripod, get the best left/right fix on the course, and don't zoom unless the whole rest of the course is at a distance.  I try to stay on both dog and handler from GO to when they leave the ring. It is interesting to watch how each team behaves right after their run -- either elated or bummed out. But when we got there we discovered John had taken the tripod out of my trunk to take to family reunion and had not replaced it.  So we hand-held all the Friday videos.  Fortunately, Sheryl wasn't leaving Baton Rouge until Friday afternoon.  She was able to send Wayne to my house for the tripod and she brought it to me in time for Saturday's filming.

The Match:  Lucky ran twice in her first match on Thursday afternoon.  I can't remember how she did and we didn't take any pictures or videos as I had intended, but she seemed comfortable in the ring.  I also ran Maxie two runs, but on the first one I forgot it was practice, so we ran the course then left the ring with another minute to spare.

I didn't think the match was well organized.  Both rings were going simultaneously, and without a PA system nor even a megaphone, you could not hear when your turn came up, or even when the ring was available for a walk through.  The courses were all nested -- novice, open, excellent.  I just chose to run the Excellent courses, and since I didn't even have time to walk one course, Lucky and I just got out there and ran all over the place.  For some stupid reason, I had signed Lucky up for 4 runs, Maxie for 2.  Then I forgot and Lucky only ran 2 of her runs. 4 runs in one day was plenty for me.  I don't know how Tracey and others run 6-10 times in a day.

I did appreciate that no treats were allowed in the ring.  I remembered a few years back I attended a Kiln match with Maxie (before he began competing), and observed some handlers tossing food treats into the dirt at the contacts, and the next day competing dogs would stop and sniff those areas.

Lucky:  She did fine with all the excitement and noise, but she isn't used to being crated during the day.  She was good as gold, but when I let her run free in the RV field on Saturday night, she went so wild, charging too and fro, on one pass she grazed my left leg and the force knocked me down, twisting my left knee. I iced it twice Sat night, but was hobbling around on Sunday with my old knee brace on, trying desparately to pack up, missing most everybody's runs, and had to miss my XJ run as well.  By this time John had gone home and I had to concentrate on packing up or risk getting left behind with no one to help me hitch my car up.

Charlie and Sheryl, Kiln, Novice Jumpers
Sheryl:  Looks like the training Sheryl and I have been doing these past three months, plus her own classes and practice, have paid off well for her.  She and Charlie earned their NAJ title, moved up to OJ, and Q'd at least twice, maybe 3 times, on Saturday and Sunday (I missed videoing one run on Sunday and still don't know how she did).    She may have her NA title as well but even she isn't sure.She started limping midway thru her last run on Sunday and is still nursing a pinched siatic nerve in her butt.  I had that happen to me 2 years ago, it happened so fast and hurt so bad, I fell to the ground, limped for weeks, and it never has exactly fully healed!  It still aches but is not debilitating.

Plans and Goals: This week I've spent icing my knee and back and taking it easy, either watching a lot of Netflix TV series, or going thru paperwork, throwing away tons of crap I once thought was so important but now doesn't interest me, to make way for remodeling the art room in case my parents need to move in with me. The new fence, and daily practice, will have to wait.  Wasn't in my plans, but there it is.  I need my knee to be healed by November 26, 27, 28, for the next agility trial in Lake Charles, where I SINCERELY HOPE AND PRAY THAT WE EARN OUR EXCELLENT TITLES: XA and XAJ.  We only need 1 Q in each, but I will not be cocky. I will enter us in EVERY run we can enter, that will be 3 in each class.  I have learned my lesson, dear God, do you hear me???????? No more over-confidence.

Camper Issues:
We had a problem with the trailer's crank handle this trip.  I had absentmindedly draped the chains over it when hooking the tongue up to the back of the car, so when we got to Kiln the crank handle was bent in so far it wouldn't clear the shaft.  When John tried to straighten it, it broke off.  We both had to bounce and bounce and strain hard to lift the trailer tongue off the ball and move it sideways enough to clear.  Then there was no way to level the camper except with the feet.  Before leaving, I was fortunate enough to find a strong man to help me hitch the trailer back up to the car. Back at home, John was unable to replace the wheel assembly because someone had welded it onto the tongue, but he was able to remove the handle itself.  But he found out the company is out of business and there is no comparable replacement.  I finally found a welder on O'Neal Lane who, for $5, welded the broken pieces back together.  Whew!  That was a bargain. We need to spray paint it and put it back on.

I am pondering how to build a portable privacy screen to place around the pottie chair so it can be used outside.  I've been going thru all kinds of designs in my mind, from PVC and fabric, to just clamping a tarp to the existing awning and canvas support poles.  I want something that goes up and down easy, doesn't take up much space, is lightweight, weatherproof, and wind won't knock it down. I would like it not to look totally "red neck", either.

Front Cross/Rear Cross and Speed Tips

Nedra taught this in class a few weeks back:

.#1 Front Crosses make D speed up.
With a slower D, do a FC wherever possible.

#2 Rear Crosses make D slow down.  With a fast D, do a RC wherever possible.

This one stands to reason, as D wants to stay with H and a RC slows down H's forward motion, pulls D back.
With slower D's, RC's work pretty good on contact obstacles where D's speed is slowed down anyway, and when D is in midair over a jump, maybe not so good on the ground. 

A RC is hard to perform very close to the jump.  It tends to push D sideways and away from the jump.  Here's a video clip showing what can happen.

You have to time your RC so it occurs just after the previous jump.  This means you have to send D straignt ahead while you slow down and cross diagonally behind them, without slowing D down.  This is difficult, as D is generally trying to stay with you and match your speed.  Need lots of SEND practice and ARM CHANGE practice to do this well.

The "Blind Cross"

At a recent practice, I had my first experience of a blind cross.  It was not planned, and boy, was it weird!  I had heard of a blind cross but never ran across an explanation of it.  It is basically where you turn your back on your dog and lose eye contact.

A blind cross is similar to a rear cross, except that H is asking D to cross behind H, instead of H crossing behind D!  I saw this at a trial in Kiln where as D went up the A-frame, H ran ahead and crossed to the other side before D got to the down contact.  For a few moments there, D disappeared from H's view because H turned her back on D.  In this case, H was reasonably sure D was running down the A-frame, but on the flat, H can not be sure where D actually is.
What makes this handling move happen is when D is running behind H, H is desparate to transition D to the other side, and there is no time for a front cross.   So H changes arms in the hopes D will cross over behind H.  Didn't work for me.

Training the BC: I suppose the "blind cross" could be trained for, and could come in handy in certain circumstances.  Maybe sit your dog, take several diagonal steps forward and away from D, then look over your opposite shoulder and call them to cross behind you for a treat in your opposite hand.

I'll try it and report on how that goes.

Videos:  I intended to post a clip here of a blind cross I had videoed in Kiln.  I had already uploaded the videos to my Picasa Web Albums and erased from both my camera and computer.  When I went to download that particular video from Picasa back to my computer to make the clip, I discovered Picasa doesn't let you download your videos back out of Picasa.  What a shock.  What's up there is yours to view, but never again to claim!  From now on I must store all of my dog's videos on my hard drive.  So much for Cloud Computing!  Not worth a damn if you give up your right to ever get them back.

Packing For A Trial

John, Willow, Maxie in front of our house.
 There is a lot to think about when packing for a 4 day trip away from home with 2 dogs.  When you add going to a trial, and camping, that's considerably more.  It takes me 3-4 days to prepare, actually longer if you consider printing out forms, mailing in entries and payments.  There's food, clothing, toiletries, linens, makeup, medicines, shelter, money, cameras, computer, glasses, and all your dog's needs, including food, crates, x-pens, leashes, treats, toys, bowls, poopie bags, shot records, etc.  For the trial, you must add all the trial paperwork, reservations, and directions to the trial site.  Then there's the car--clean out debris, check air in tires, empty and repack the trunk so everything fits, gas up, and BE SURE TO CLEAN THE WINDSHIELDS, especially if you are heading East in the early morning or West at sunset.  Going to Gulfport, I was totally unable to see.  My windshields were filthy and I had left my sunglasses at home!

If staying in a hotel, reservations should be made weeks in advance and there's possibly a roommate to procure and share expenses with.  Roomates can become difficult if the dogs don't know each other or the personalities clash, and believe me, you don't need any added stress or difficult people at a trial.

If my pop-up camper is to be my shelter, there's linens and pillows, flashlights, fresh batteries, and a drip coffee pot to pack, a propane tank to fill, tires to check, sheets and pillowcases to launder, coolers to wash out, ice blocks to freeze, an extended mirror to fit on the driver's door.  I also need to arrange for someone to be around to help me back up to the hitch on the last day.  I can't do that alone.  Also, I learned from my Hattiesburg experience I had better visit the RV site first to make sure it's fairly level and otherwise suitable. 
Sandwich materials for 3 or 4 lunches (for me Orewheat 7-Grain Bread, ham and turkey combination, sliced aged Kraft Swiss, leaf lettuce, mayo).  Hard boiled eggs, ham and instant grits for breakfast.  Snacks (crackers, fruit, energy bars, chips), 3 dinner meals to figure out--will I eat out or cook, and if so, what to cook that tastes yummy and keeps me healthy but doesn't take much fixing.  Also, if John stays over on Thursday night, something "vacationy" for him to enjoy!  A good standby for me is cole slaw, so I buy a cabbage, carrots and dried cranberries ahead of time, make up a bunch of slaw with my own dressing, and munch on that all weekend.  Tastes delicious, and along with the grapes, lettuce and seeded bread, the roughage keeps me regular!  Without it, I could have "sewerage" problems.

Using a cooler:  I freeze 4 square plastic Ocean Spray quart bottles ahead of time.  I lay them together at the bottom of my wheelable Igloo cooler and this takes 3 days to melt.  As it melts I drink the water.  Takes up half the cooler, which doesn't leave much room for cold food and canned drinks, but it is enough. In the small cooler that I take into the arena, I put 1 of the 4 blocks of ice and some coke bottles filled with water (also frozen ahead of time).  If the arena's kitchen has a freezer, great!  I put one of my quart bottles in there every night a re-freeze, then my ice lasts 4 days.

I bring along a few extra things, like cup-a-soups and instant rice entrees just in case I have company.  Also my favorite chocolate candy (Hershey's Almond Kisses, Mr. Goodbar, Krackel, etc.), and a cookie jar with Iced Oatmeal and Nutter-Butter cookies.
My preference is water, V-8 singles, grape juice, coffee and 1 Sprite a day.  In warm weather, I freeze pint coke bottles half full of water and frozen on its side, then fill the rest with water on the day I need it.  It melts throughout the day and provides ice cold water without needing ice cubes or making a wet mess in the cooler.  I bring a thermos and fill it with hot coffee every morning.

Shoes are most important.  Two pairs of tennis shoes worn on opposite days keep any one pair from hurting my feet, but by the end of each day these are covered with dirt, so I need other shoes for evening wear, and a pair for sloshing around in mud puddles in case of rain. By the time my shoes bag is packed, there's at least 5 pairs of freshly washed shoes in there:  2 pairs tennies, slippers, loafers, flip flops.  Along with the shoes is the socks.  Very important to have dry feet!  I bring at least 6 pairs of socks, and each pair matches my outfits. 

By the way, I have discovered the most comfortable tennies in the world for my feet.  They are by Athletic Works, at Wal-Mart for $12.  I wear Men's 8.5 Wide.  Being velcro strapped, they never come untied, adjust to my foot width, have good arch support, and never touch my toes.  All other tennies manage to press on my trick toe which have caused me to wear open toed sandals all my life and never before find a pair of tennies I could wear more than a few hours.  I love them so much and the price is so right, and I'm so afraid they will be discontinued, I bought 4 pairs.  They only come in black and gray.

One matched outfit for each day of trialing.  You never know when a professional photographer might take the most awesome photo of your dog and there you are in your sloppy, baggy pants, hair all askew, boobs flopping up to your chin, looking like an old goat.  I haven't quite got the outfits down, but I'm working on it.  They have to have lots of pockets.  Also still working on the right bras to "keep me down" while running. There are a lot of boobs bouncing around in the trialing ring.  I don't notice the other peoples' very much, actually, but since I video all my runs -- Oh lordie, so painful to watch!  I've learned to buy a few sturdy bras that are 1 cup size and 1 girth size smaller than I normally wear.

Electronics (camera, phone, computer):
All batteries need to be charged before leaving home, and the chargers brought with me and charged up again every night.  I have to download all the videos I take each day onto my computer at night, else I won't have room for more videos the next day.  Digital is great, but it isn't as instantaneous as one might think.  Downloading to my computer and erasing the disk takes about 20 minutes.  Setting it up and taking it down takes another 20 minutes.  So, about 40 minutes each evening dedicated to video processing.

I keep a toiletries bag made up, but I still need to check it, add my electric tooth brush and Water Pic, plus vitamins and a first aid kit which I also check each time.  I make sure I keep Swedish Bitters for insect bites (I'm very allergic to bee and wasp stings), Echinacea in case I feel a cold coming on, Preparation H in case the old hemeroid flairs up, Stress Tabs which I take every day, 5 Hour Energy Drink (in case I get sleepy when I should be alert), pain killers (in case anyone gets injured), knee brace, etc.

Doggie Treats:
I bring hot dogs and string cheese to trials, special treats just for the dog who is running.  The rest of the time they get kibble, bread crusts, or log dog food.  Whatever is handy.

Dog Food:
I measure out every meal for every dog, add an extra day's worth, and store it in a gallon zip lock bag.

Doggie Paraphranalia:
Maxie is easy.  Two touch targets.  2 collars, one with tags.  One slip-on leash.  Hair brush. X-pen.  Crate and crate rug.  Folding chair. Bowl for water and food.

Lucky, same as above, except no chair.  She like balls and tug toys, so I have to bring those.  Also a retractable leash for our walks.  She needs to roam, I don't have an x-pen that can hold her in so I need to tie her off.

I also keep an extra leash or 2 tucked in my trunk or glove box, just in case I lose one.  A lose dog is illegal, not to mention dangerous for the dog.

Arena Setup:
Patio rug (and depending on conditions, a tarp to spread under it), wire dog crates, bleachers chair, my and John's folding chairs, Maxie's chair, small cooler with a day's worth of ice, drinks and treats, snack bag, tripod, video camera, portable fan, dolly for carrying heavy stuff into the arena, umbrella, raincoat, dog's suitcase, paper, pens, Competition Recordbook, Jump Height card.

Anything that can go on wheels -- crates, coolers, a dolly, etc., makes it a lot less tiring to set up and take down your trial space.  As it is, you will be making several trips.

Weather - Check the weather before you go, but prepare for the report to be wrong.  Sweating all day because you didn't bring shorts is no fun.  Freezing all day because you forgot a jacket and long pants, also no fun.  Pottying your dogs or packing in the rain without a raincoat or umbrella, no fun at all.

Back Home:
Unpacking: If I did trials every weekend like some people, I could leave a lot of stuff packed, but since I don't trial that often, everything needs putting away.

If it has rained while my camper is up, I have to open it back up when I get home and dry it out.  That's another 3 hours of work.

If it doesn't need re-opening, I still need to make sure I haven't left something in it that I will need in the house, like my makeup bag!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

CR Central Rear Cross Practice

This morning, still exhausted, I managed to drag my butt around my yard and set up the CR Central exercises in the Oct 2010 issue of Clean Run.  It's all about REAR CROSSES.  Sheryl is coming tomorrow morning and we'll have a good training session with this one.  I mean, how can D know what H wants him to do when H is behind him.  Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do.  Are they psychic?  Have eyes in the back of their head?  Do they sense our auric field?

We decided to meet at the field at 3 this afternoon, both of us tired, dogs lethargic, temp about 86.  It was too hot to practice the full course on Field 1, which at this time of day is in full sun.  So we set up the same CR Central course on field 3, in shade.  It is a lot tougher than it looks on paper.  See diagram.

In this exercise, the object is to do a Rear Cross (RC) after 5, then direct D to take 7a, 7b, 7c, or 7d.  The problem we ran into in every case was our D's lost momentum after 5 because we were hanging back trying to RC.  In most cases they would not take 6, and they were head checking us all thru the runs.  What was that all about?

7b, 7c and 7d weren't hard to pull D toward after 6, but pushing to 7a (purple) was a bitch, nearly impossible!  After your RC, you are trapped behind the wing at 6, and to avoid tripping over it you must run outward, pulling D outward, then arm change, run and push back inward to indicate 7a.  Very clumsy!

The way I was able to handle this move best (not pictured) is NOT to RC after 5, but run by and direct over 6, then arm change to indicate 7a.

Well, one good thing is, Lucky did the best out of Maxie, Charlie and Lucky today.  That was a first!

Crap.  Only 12 days til the Kiln trial!  I gotta get focused, rested up, and get out there and practice.  So much I don't know. Don't worry about WHY it works, just do what works.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lucky's New 5' Fence

NOTE: This is officially my 100th post!  Not all are published yet, some I'm still working on, but 100 seems a milestone.  I didn't know I had that much to say.

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.  What are we going to do?  Within a few days of acquiring Lucky, we knew we had a jumper.  She could wriggle over a 2' high wrought Iron fence at 8 weeks, trying to get into the yard we were in.  At 4 months, considerably smaller still than our dingo, FoohFooh, the 2' picket fence I built around our garden to keep the dogs out, she sailed right over without thinking about it.  Within 6 months, she was scrabbling over our 4' picket fence in the front yard, and finding weak corners or high things to stand on to scrabble over our 5' wire fence.  She is amazing, but has been almost impossible to keep in.  When we leave home, we have to chain her to an overhead line.  She doesn't complain about it, but of course prefers to be free.

Not that she runs away.  She loves her home.  She also loves to chase rabbits, possums, squirrels and most especially armadillos late in the night.  She has disappeared in the darkness more than once. Whenever we leave the fenced yard she is in, she does her best to join us.

For those who aren't familiar, John and I live on 2.25 acres, most of it not fenced, but we have a fenced back yard, a fenced front yard, and a fenced side yard that together make a U shape around our house.  The back yard contains an L shaped area for the agility equipment, the long side of the L about 45' x 80', the short side about 30' x 60', the 25' x 25' vegetable garden is nestled inside the L, and a bunch more yard that I can use for weaves or other practice.

Well, before I knew the full extent of Lucky's prowess, I had already bought the wood and built all the sections of a new 4' high picket fence to replace the old wire fencing running across the back of the back yard.  All I was waiting for was for John's back to get better so he could dig 12 deep holes and help me set the posts.  But now, we realize we have to turn this into a 5' fence, meaning we have to build a 1' extension below the original sections I already spent weeks building. 

John and I figured out how to put up a temporary wire fence that would keep even Lucky in while we tore down the old rotten fencing, which we did last Thursday and Friday, salvaging what we could of pickets and posts, removing all the nails, carrying debris and vines to the road, stacking lumber, etc.  The weather was in the 60's and 70's, so it was perfect and we enjoyed ourselves.  We felt like pioneers, clearing the land, but by Friday afternoon we were exhausted.  And now the weather is back up into the 90's for the next week so I doubt we'll do more.  This gives us a week to plan how to build our extensions.  As this progresses, I'll add photos.

This hasn't given me much time or energy to practice at agility this week but in the long run it's a necessary step to having a secure yard for Lucky to be in.  I was hoping to find someone to go out to practice with me tonight, but Nedra is at an agility seminar in Monroe, Sheryl is at a festival, and I can't think of anyone else.  I'm too tired anyway.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

#8 Practice with Sheryl - Weave Entries, Sends & Calls

Having practiced Monday morning and Monday night, I wasn't up to much practice Tuesday morning.  We decided to watch some more of Susal Garret's Success With One Jump video, including Rear Cross training, Serpentines and Threadles.  All of my notes on this video are included in an earlier post on the whole series, found here.

Maxie doing the weaves.

We decided to do a little outdoor practice after all.  We practiced 2 pole weave entries from various angles and Maxie, Charlie and Lucky did well.  We added one jump, then two.  All did well.  Then, as an experiment, I sat myself in a chair at one end of 12 weaves, sent Sheryl to the other end about 6 feet out.  I sent Maxie thru the weaves to Sheryl for a treat, then called him back to me for a treat.  Back and Forth.  Back and Forth, with me NOT running alongside.  No Handler motion, just a wave of the hand and a "weave" command. He must have done it 20 times and thoroughly enjoyed himself.  We then tried it with Charlie and he began getting the hang of it.  Needs a bit more practice to go both ways without skipping any poles.  We didn't try it with Lucky.  Next time.

It was lots of fun making up an exercise and watching Maxie catch on so quickly.  I'm so very proud of my little man.

Monday Night "Blocks and Wraps" Practice

For the first time this season, Temperature: 55.  Everyone wore jackets, while last week we were sweating buckets!  The grass has slowed down its growth so the XS course set up last time has stayed up 2 weeks.  We've run it forwards, then backwards, then last night Nedra re-numbered all the obstacles for a totally new run.  While probably not meeting all AKC requirements for a sanctioned course, it presented some very interesting challenges. 

Here's a part of the course I'm calling "Blocks & Wraps", because even the most seasoned dogs had trouble with multiple choices and difficult entries.  There are lots of traps, and the most difficult weave entry I've ever seen, made harder by the beckoning tunnel entrance.  All that said, Maxie did a perfect weave entry the first time.  I was so proud, but sad that by that time nobody was watching us.  But he had problems in other areas.  We will practice this again Wednesday night when I go out to assist Kay's Beginner's class.

Enough said.

Gift For The Teacher - Nedra's Retirement

Last night during class I presented Nedra, our Monday night "Competitive Handling" instructor, with a card signed by all her students and a $50 gift card to Home Depot, celebrating her retirement after 51 years with the same company.  I think she was pleasantly surprised.  Someone commented, "Now that you're retired, we plan on working you to death."  That's not far from the truth, as Nedra says she plans on running for LCCOC's 2011 Agility Director.  We are all quite happy with that.  Nedra has been a member of LCCOC for 36 years or so, helped organize the agility arm of our club, is usually our AgilityTrial Secretary, very knowledgable in the sport, knows all the people involved, and she has a calming personality.  Everyone likes and respects her. She should be a joy to work with and I have great hopes for the club's growth under her leadership.

It took 2 months from the time I got the card to collect money from every student and get their signatures on the card.  It seems someone is always missing from class.  Last night was the first night everyone was there, and the card had been in my glove box so long the envelope had stains on it.

Still, mission accomplished.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rear Cross & Arm Change Practice

Kay set up this neat little exercise at the field and I've been working on it both as a Rear Cross practice where H runs along with D (red H), crisscrossing paths, and Arm Change Call Practice where H remains behind Jump 1 (blue H) and calls D to come. 

SET-UP: 5 jumps about 12' to 18' apart, staggered.  Start with less staggering, then as D masters the exercise, move jumps 2 and 4 further and further out in increments of 1 foot (see turquoise jumps for final placement).

REAR CROSSES: H (red path) runs a bit behind D (black path), crossing D's path as close to the previously taken jump as possible. As soon as D commits to 2 (feet have left the ground), H changes arms and points left shoulder and arm to 3.  When D commits to 3, H changes arms and points right shoulder and arm to 4 in a "cross over chest" maneuver.  D learns quickly to read H's directional ques, even though H is behind D.

After 5, can send D thru tunnel at 6 then run 7-11 the same as 1-5.

ARM CHANGE CALLS:  Position blue D before 7.  Blue H goes to the opposite end, calls D over jumps 7-11, indicating the bends in the course with arm/shoulder rotations.  For D to go left, H crosses right arm over chest and points left.  For D to go right, H crosses left arm over chest and points right.

To start out, position D only 3 jumps out, then 4, then all 5.  When perfected, increase the staggering of the jumps, alter the travelling distances between the jumps, replace bar jumps with other types of jumps, etc.

H can work D thru all these exercises from either end.

This can be set up for a long time and practiced in 5 minute intervals, day after day, year after year.  Great handling practice and Maxie thinks it's fun tearing around those curves and getting high praise for it.

Elder Care Wake-Up Call!

Whew!  I haven't blogged in almost a week!  Lots going on.  My dad fell, hurt his back, went in the hospital in Cape Coral, FL, then into a rehab facility for some physical therapy.  Right now he can't walk so he can't go home.  Mom, turning 90 in February 2011, still drives, cooks and cleans her condo, but really is going to need help handling him from now on.  She can't lift him. It's a bridge we finally have to cross, and me a 14 hour drive away!

Mom was so tired a few days back from all the running to and from the rehab place, she fell asleep while simmering some sausage on the stove, which set off the smoke alarm, which a neighbor heard and called the fire department.  They charged in and asked for her driver's license, then set it down on a table where she couldn't find it.  She called me in a panic that they had taken her driver's license and now she couldn't drive, visit Dad, shop, etc.  She found it the next day but it was a wake-up call for all of us.

How fortunate that my parents have been so independant into their 90's, but now it's time for me to prepare for taking care of them.  John and I have talked a long time about erecting another out-building to house all our pottery, electronics and leather crafting stuff, then refurbish the back wing of our house into an apartment.  Mom has seemed keen on the idea of coming to live with me someday, in case Dad passes before she does, talking of buying a condo in Baton Rouge, nearby.  But without a drivers license, she agrees she'd be better off in an apartment attached to my house.  We both know she could never live with John and me due to our dogs, not to mention our different life-styles and habits.  But an attached apartment could work.  Mom even offered to finance some of the changes.  We'll see how that goes.  Lots to think about and plan for.

So I'm out pacing off yardage and dreaming up remodeling ideas.  My sister in law, Audrey, lives in a house that I truly love the design of, so I am going to take pictures of her crown molding, window and door treatments, and color scheme this upcoming Friday.  It will look just as awesome in my back wing, and without all the trial and error and guesswork, I believe we can do some of the work ourselves!

In addition, we finally brought in some fill dirt (6 tons of it), spread and leveled that, and then bought a pallet of St. Augustine sod to lay over it, trying to fix the horrible dust problem we have going out into the back yard/agility field.  It was hard labor for me and John for 2 days, and my back is feeling it.

Still, we have to practice for the upcoming Kiln trial.  It hasn't rained in over a week and the agility yard is a dust bowl even when I water it.  So Sheryl and I have been meeting at the field.  It's dusty there too, but there are larger grassy patches and a full course set up.

I'm also assisting Kay's Wednesday night Beginners Class.  I bring Maxie and Lucky out a half hour early and we run the advanced course, then after Kay's class I bring them out again for another run.  I'll write about one of Kay's exercises in my next post.