Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kiln Trial October 25-28, 2012

MAXIE: 8 runs, 4 Q’s, 1 QQ, 1 1st place, 2 2nd place, 1 3rd place, 44 MACH POINTS, 7 videos
LUCKY LUCY: 8 runs, 2 Q’s, 1 QQ, 2 4th places, 12 MACH points, 8 videos

MILESTONES:  Lucky’s 1st QQ.  Maxie’s 10th QQ., 1st 4 day trial this year.

A rare 4 day trial for us, I usually only do 2 or 3 days and hang around the last day to rest, pack, watch and visit.  But I felt up to this one being as it’s only 2 hours from home, my motor home is cozy, parking is close to the arena, October weather is generally cool and pleasant, the Kiln arena less intimidating with only 1 ring going at a time, the hosting club is very friendly, and I wanted to give myself enough cushion to meet my 2012 goals.  I figured I could sit out a few runs if I felt too tired or stressed out.  I made it through all 16 runs but came home exhausted.

Left out at 1 p.m. on Wednesday with a stop in Slidell to visit my Dad’s gravesite and take pictures that can help Mom and me choose some permanent grave markers.  The gravesite was still dirt from Dad’s recent burial, but there were fresh flowers.  Found out Thursday when my Mother called me (8 times before I checked my phone) that my brother Londo is visiting New Orleans from Tampa and put them there.  Also discovered he had reported a poor site condition to Mom by phone, which upset her, so she had just called Forrest Lawn and ordered the slabs herself, sight unseen.  Having originally assigned that job to me, I had visited to assess the situation envisioned how to make the area special, and now my efforts were trashed.  I could have let that bother me, but instead decided to set it out of my mind until the trial was over.  I had a few other opportunities to practice my mental game over the weekend, too (more on that later).

From a balmy 75 degrees to start, the weather turned cold and windy late Friday evening, down in the 40’s.  The rest of the weekend was spent inside the motor home unless I was bringing Maxie or Lucky into the ring to run. The door was hard to open in the strong wind.  My windows and fence whistled constantly. But it was my first time using the heater, and it works great.  The dust was awful, grit in the mouth, eyes, and nostrils, especially on Sunday.  The open air arena was like a wind tunnel, bits of weed fluff flying everywhere, very distracting to the dogs.  You'll see in the video below, Maxie left the weaves at one point to follow a little white tuft of something blowing across his path.  Still poor at my mental game, I was horrified and did something I never do.  I put him through the weaves again.  At least he succeeded the second time but I skewed our course time averages.  Which is better?  Still not sure.

Lucky does not like posing for pictures!
Her 1st QQ ribbon (purple) is quite a prize.
Two white rosettes are her 4th place wins.
Jumpers with 4.45 seconds to spare, Standard
with 8 seconds under SCT.  Yahoo!
LUCKY LUCY:  I attribute Lucky’s QQ on Saturday (after 4 NQ’s on Thurs and Fri.) to cold weather and her never once being crated in the arena.  She stayed “home” until her time to run.  I didn’t bribe her with treats, tugging, ball throwing or anything.  We ran into the ring, did our run, and then afterwards I ran out with her, tossing her pieces of fried chicken, which she loved, we visited a few folks, lots of praise and pats, then back to the motor home.  Also, I was jumping her at 24” this weekend as an experiment, to see if it increased her enthusiasm, and also because she jumps higher than that even at 20”, and 24” gives her an extra few seconds of course time.  Of course somebody complained about me jumping her so high.  No matter. It gave her just the edge of time she needed for those 2 QQ’s.  I was thrilled to hear people cheer for her when she Q’d in Jumpers – her first since obtaining her AXJ Title in Kiln a whole year ago.  By comparison, she leaves this trial with 8 Q’s in Standard, so we could possibly get her MX Title in Lake Charles next month.  Only 2 Q’s to go for that title -- but only 3 chances unless I go to Pensacola over Christmas.

Maxie posing at home with his QQ ribbon
and his 4 clean runs, all with placement
ribbons - Blue = 1st place, Red = 2nd place,
Yellow = 3rd place.
MAXIE: Maxie is running a bit slower.  Don’t know why.  Maybe the dust and wind, as he was shivering in my arms at times. Also, the videos show Max certainly isn't chasing me like the famous pair, Tigger and Robin. If anything, we are running along side-by- side and I am setting the pace.  If I ran faster, would he? He popped out of the weaves 3 times. But he is crazy for his turn, and barks his head off in complaint when I head towards crate or RV.  He likes being in the thick of things, hanging with me.  And he Q'd 4 out of 8 runs, all with placement, and his 10th QQ.

MENTAL GAME:  I had to put my big girl panties on once again on Saturday when, just as I was about to enter the Jumpers ring with Maxie, a very self-confident clubmate/former instructor comes up and grabs me by both shoulders, looks me in the eye, shakes her finger in my face and  chews me out for not taking Lucky “immediately to her crate for a huge jackpot” after her first successful run.  My mental game went all to hell and Maxie knew it.  We had our worst run of the weekend-- 5 seconds over course time, missed weaves, 2 refusals.  I have to work on recovering from such shocks in 30, no 10, no 5 seconds flat!  Instead I entered the ring thinking that gal has some nerve chastizing me to encourage my dog while she discourages me!  I should have told her “How dare you accost me just as I’m going into the ring!”, and been done with it.  But I don’t think that fast, my mouth doesn’t open that quickly, and my confusion turns to resentment slowly.  I surmise that comes from being brought up in a household where the children could never speak their mind for fear of father’s wrath.  We learned to zip our lips. Sometimes this serves me well, other times not so much.

WILLOW: Of course she tagged along.  She has become noticeably more self confident lately, jealous for her pet/cuddle time, even looking to be included on training sessions at home.  She usually just tolerates Pepper's playfulness like a Mamma dog, but doesn't react or participate.  Here’s a short string of video snippets of her engaging in a rare bit of play in our RV yard, which also shows the fierce wind we experienced in Kiln.  All chairs and tables were laid down most of the weekend so as not to blow over.

PEPPER: Pepper is enthusiastic and shows no fear of anything.  He became “observant and tentative”, though, when I brought him to sit in the aisle between rings with all the feet tromping by and dogs barking, but he wasn’t cowering.  In the field, on a 16” retractable leash, he romped and froliced like a colt.  He tries to pee on everything and pulls hard on his leash!  He can get tangled up in that leash within 5 seconds of tearing around, and his constant rear crossing makes it hard to walk all 4 dogs at once.  The leashes are constantly tangled.  I had forgotten to appreciate how well the other dogs have learned to walk on leash together.

Portia and the 4 dogs hang out before breakfast.
VISITORS:  Laura and Portia came Friday night for the Pumpkin Carving and stayed Saturday thru about 2 p.m.  Good thing, because Laura was able to bring me several items from home. While it was fun, there were issues with food, phone cords, game boys, socks and such forth left out where the dogs could get them, not enough warm clothing, clashing schedules, a child needing tending, TV on after my bedtime, blocked passageways in my narrow motor home, who gets to sleep with which dogs, etc.  Just the nature of having company, I find once again that I really need my privacy at trials.  As they hadn’t packed clothes for cold weather and the arena was freezing, Portia didn’t see any agility runs anyway and Laura only saw one of mine.  Of course it was one of Maxie’s worst!  My sister-in-law and niece, Carolyn and Heather, showed up Sunday afternoon, just in time to see Maxie’s last run of the weekend, another NQ and no video to study to see what went wrong.  It was too cold for them in the arena as well, so after a brief tour of my RV, they also left.

The lucky Q pumpkin.
The RV’ers:
There were 19 RV’s in the park, about 10 more than my first Kiln trial with my pop up camper 2 years ago.  Our regional group of agility RV’ers is clearly growing! They did the Pumpkin Carving party on Friday night, which was fun and the Q pumpkin could be rubbed all weekend for good luck, but they called off the “Whine & Cheesy” party Saturday night. Just too cold, too windy, and everyone too tired. I had made a double batch of chili, again, and again it was not eaten.  John and I will be eating chili for awhile!

OUR CLUB:  There were at least 20 competitors from our Baton Rouge club at this trial.  I know 'cause Thursday morning early I counted the envelopes containing our badge numbers!

VIDEOS:  Several different people took my videos, all with different styles and ideas on how to do this.  One cut my head off, another got me but lost Maxie, another never zoomed in so Maxie is an invisible speck half the time, another zoomed in so much we were both lost, some tried to film the time clock at the end and never found it (I recommend the videographer just announce the time).  Most never documented the date, time or place.  Maxie's last run is missing. I despair of getting consistently good videos.  Such as they are, I uploaded a composite of Maxie's runs to YouTube, with commentary.


One thing Maxie's videos brought to light this time, you can't accurately calculate your dog's average YPS if you include the time it takes to put them through the weaves again. If I want to track whether my dog is really running faster or slower this year than last, this month than last, I either gotta keep moving forward, or I have to subtract the repeat time in my records.  It does help me to see that Maxie's average time has decreased from around 3.5 YPS last year to around 3 YPS this year.   Why is he slowing down?

Also, if 8 runs have roughly 20 obstacles each, that's 160 obstacles taken over the weekend. With Maxie's 6 faults, that's a 96% accuracy rate.  It helps me to count our success this way, not just in Q's.

Lucky:  4 of 8 of Lucky's runs were clean, but all but the 2 Q's were at least 5 seconds over course time.  Only 2 Q's, which thankfully happened on the same day, resulting in her first QQ in a year's worth of trying, and her first Q in XJ in a year. Rather than bore myself with reviewing her ongoing lackluster performances, I choose to just focus on her 2 wins. 

What is clearest to me about them is
  1. She has no trouble jumping 24"
  2. Her wins were a result of her speeding up, rather than barely walking, thru the weaves.  The future has to be all about those weaves.
  3. She does not like being crated up all day.  It makes her sad, bored, stressed -- some combination of those things.  She ran fastest and clean when going straight from the RV to the ring.
It truly breaks my heart that dog fanciers can't see her as I do -- a magnificent athelete chasing squirrel, armidillo, possum, birds, with tail up, nose up, cutting corners on a dime, explosive speed, total focus, indomitable will, fearless.  Yet totally domesticated, cuddly in bed, a soft mouth that never nips, loving eyes, total devotion and willingness to please, quick to learn, etc.  Over and over people ask me her breed.  I say "Yes she is a breed, she's a "Southern Black Mouth Cur".  And I often hear, well, if she wasn't a breed, she should be, she is so beautiful (great face markings, build, coat . . . . etc.)

I used my new Logitech H530 headset/microphone (from Office Depot and highly recommended by a professional audio tech person), and am pleased with the results. No more cutting out, volume easier to adjust.  I was also pleased with the price, recently reduced from $50 to $30!

Only problem I had is while the LED guage said my black water tank was only 1/3 full (and I emptied it recently, too), still, when flushing the toilet I see water and paper just under the valve.  Something is wrong.  Rather than use it any more, I decided to treat it as a port-a-pottie.  I lined the bowl with a kitchen trash bag stretched over the toilet bowl, put the seat down over that, and in the morning I stuff the bag and contents into a gallon zip lock and throw it out.  Same as I used to do with the port-a-pottie in the pop-up camper.  It worked fine then, and works fine now.  But still I want my flushable sewerage!

Wednesday I managed to step my left foot in a puddle of water but was too busy to change shoes or socks.  By Thursday morning the sole of my foot was textured and tender, by Friday morning a crack had appeared between two toes and was hurting.  One thing I had forgotten to bring was Athelete’s Foot spray, Neosporin or Vitamin E oil.  Laura brought me those but of course it was too late.  So my foot was sore all weekend and I should have changed socks 2-3 times per day to keep it from being sticky. But of course I didn’t bring so many socks, so I just took off my shoe when I could and aired it out.  Which wasn’t often!  With 4 dogs and company, one is always on one’s feet.

Got home to John's surprise -- he prepared a few garden rows for me.  Unfortunately by Tuesday he had a pinched sciatic nerve, by Wednesday he could barely walk.  We went to the chiropractor on Wednesday, then Thursday, and today.  Ice pack every hour, anit-inflammatories, bedrest.  We're catching up on recorded shows and Netflix documentaries and I'm slowly getting this blog post together, interspursed with nursing my foot, Halloween festivities, cleaning out the RV, laundry, and Portia's birthday party.

  • First time to try it out, and the heater in the RV works great.  Since it works on both electricity and LP gas, I can take it to any trial in winter, even if they don't have RV hookups.  I actually only need electricity to run the AC.
  • Maxie needs only 11 more MACH points to reach my goal of 550 by year end.  We should get that easily in Lake Charles.  We met our goal of 10 QQ's by year-end.  Hopefully 10 next year will get us to MACH in 2013, but I realize this is a stretch as it took us 15 months to achieve the first 10. 
  • I just counted, and to obtain the new Bronze MXB and MJB titles, Maxie needs 4 more Jumpers Q's and 4 more Standard Q's for 25 of each.  With only 1 more trial scheduled this year (unless I go to Pensacola), I doubt I can attain that this year.  Early in 2013 is likely.
  • Lucky finally got a Q in Jumpers.  Her last Jumpers Q was a year ago, in Kiln, to earn her MXJ.  Nothing since then.  A whole year, and always over course time.  Only 2 more Standard Q's to go to get her MXJ title, though.  We might reach that in Lake Charles.
  • Run faster!  Lean forward. Learn to enjoy exercise. Treat agility as a game of chase.  Do more shadow handling and racing around the yard with my dogs trying to catch me.  Learn to time my forward momentum so I don't get caught where I can't move forward.
  •  COMPLETELY outfit my RV with everything I need – a different set of toiletries, medicines, camp chairs, jackets, than I keep at home.  My goal is to never find myself without something I may need, and not have to cart things back and forth from the house, or risk forgetting something and being without.  One thing about a Class C as opposed to a trailer, once you’re set up you can’t easily unhook everything and drive to the store.
Next trial, Thanksgiving Weekend in Lake Charles. A 3  day'er, and the weather there is usually freezing, rainy and windy.  I must find another parachute suit with a hood, a trapper hat to keep my ears warm, and otherwise get myself prepared.  And another way to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Upwards and onward,

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Suggest you look into waterproof (gortex) tennis shoes. Tracey and I think they are AWESOME.