Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Day Practice w. Sheryl

Despite our infirmities, Sheryl and I managed to squeeze off one practice session at the agility field, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Halloween Day, one week after the Kiln trial. Loralie had set up the XS course from Kiln trial last Sunday (the one I didn't sign up for, duh!), and could not have run even if I had signed up, due to my knee injury.  We walked the course several times and I decided to run Maxie as if going for a Q.  We actually made it!  I tried some distance handling and layering techniques on subsequent runs, and some of them worked surprisingly well.  However, layering behind the dog walk was a total bomb.  Maxie took the dog walk every time.  Lucky ran the course in segments and did well for an "Advanced Beginner".  Not ready to Q, however.  She is comfortable with all the obstacles, her contacts are pretty good, but with such long strides she is often over the next obstacle in front of her before I can signal a turn.  She doesn't make tight turns, either.  My timing with her needs some practice, as well as keeping her focused on me.  With such short hair and muscular body, she is beautiful to watch, though.

Sheryl ran Charlie once but her siatic nerve was hurting her so bad, she more or less decided she'd better take it easy a few more weeks.  That means no practice sessions together for awhile.  It is discouraging for her, I know.  Me too. A few years back, in Polly's Beginners class with Maxie, I'll never forget running Maxie over the A-Frame, on leash, when my siatic nerve got pinched and I collapsed in pain, almost yanking my puppy off the top of the A-frame.  Scared me silly, and hurt for weeks.  Fortunately, Maxie wasn't phased a bit.  Jerk sideways, then stopped near the upper edge, looked down and wagged his tail and waited for my next move. He's not very skiddish, thank goodness.  But I limped home, nearly in tears of fear and disappointment.

Several of us have talked about having another handler being able to run/train our dogs if we get hurt in future, so I gave it a whirl running Charlie. He ran the whole course for me, broken up with treats at the table and after the weaves, and was fairly enthusiastic, with Sheryl in clear sight.  We were both amazed by this.  I will ask Noel to practice running Maxie before or after Wed night class, and anyone else who wants to try it is welcome. I wouldn't mind trying to run other students' dogs as well. Running a border collie would be a fun experiment!

Tracey and Lego, MXJ5, Kiln, MS
Besides the injuries keeping us both down, it's been raining for 3 days so Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night classes have all been cancelled.  Forced indoors, I've been taking the time to read Tracey Roth's agility blog.  Tracey is a fellow LCCOC club member who has been training and trialing in both AKC and USDAA agility since long before I got into the sport. She owns and trains about 9 dogs, many of them mixed rescues, and she's been blogging every few days about her dog training/trialing experiences since October 2005.  It's a bunch to read!  Not all of it is riveting, but on the whole it shows the tempo of a dedicated young working wife who lives on acreage out in the country with chiropractor husband and a bunch of dogs, trains them at home almost daily, builds her own equipment, teaches classes, helps run dog clubs and put on events, and shows in lots of obedience and agility trials.  Whew!  She is a busy gal!

Portia blows out the candles
on her fabulous "black cat" cake.
 Sunday afternoon I went to Portia's 8th birthday party, with the Halloween theme as she was born on October 31st.  It was a cool party and I got to connect with some old neighborhood friends I don't see so much now that I'm involved in dog agility.  I bought her a starter sewing kit and her mother reported that by that evening she was sewing!  I mean, what do you get an 8 year old girl?  A tug toy or bag of sows ears just won't cut it.

Michele waves the "magic wand"
over the birthday girl, and
gets branded with a horseshoe!

Oh, and I also gave her a "magic wand", which is what a "fairy god mother" must give to her "fairy god child" at some point.  Here's a picture of that, which Sheryl will recognize immediately as something we thought would be a good "doggie distraction" during our practices but so far have never gotten around to using. I found an excellent use for one of them!

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