Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Toy


Anna bought Cosi a new toy--a yellow bowling pin. It's his favorite. I look at his face as he holds his bowling pin, and there's this silly glint in his eye. He's saying, "Go ahead. Try to take it!" This dog is a crack up! Little things make him happy. There's a lesson there...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Zoe

Zoe Rose Bradley

Condolences tonight to Marilyn on the loss of her beloved Zoe. It's always difficult to let them go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The I-D 10-T Factor

The Lancaster Kennel Club trial on Saturday was fabulous. Their new site--an outdoor horse show facility--had a gravel/mulched rubber surface that was kind to dog and handler. We had no Q's but had a fabulous Excellent Standard run. (Sorry...no videos as I left the camera at home.) The good news was that Jack came to the trial and saw an absolutely awful Open JWW run. Just a mess. I got over my disappointment and walked the Excellent Standard course. It was tight and twisty--a perfect course for little 12" Brisco, but could 16" Cosi handle it? Turns out the answer was a hearty, "Yes!" We were a team, focused and together. It was such a rush. Someone told me later, "Congratulations on such a smooth run." Smooth. I liked that description. Jack commented that he thought Cosi didn't have a chance on such a tight course. He was impressed.

There was rain in the forecast for Saturday afternoon into Sunday night with a possible accumulation of 2"! It started to rain during the Novice Standard course, the last class of the day. I was scribing the class and got to see my friends Gail and Marilyn run their dogs--Sizzle and Summer. Both Q'd, and I was so happy I had a front row seat. (Love scribing. Does that make me an agility geek?)

Sunday morning it was still raining hard as Gail and I traveled to the trial site. At 6:30 a.m. it was still dark, making it difficult to gauge the condition of the rings. By 7 a.m. we were walking inside the rings. O.M.Goodness. The rings were nothing more than 2 inches of muck. I had on calf-high boots, and the tops of my boots were covered as my foot sank. Gail's dog Sizzle is just coming back from a shoulder injury. Cosi doesn't slow down for conditions. Therefore, it was a no-brainer for us to say, "We're not running today." Would the club cancel? We left.

Gail called me later in the afternoon to tell me what happened. She learned from a friend who stayed that the club was going to cancel and give a partial refund. (Yea!) However, a bunch of selfish idiots (the I.D.10.T factor) complained, "We need double Q's for Nationals!" So the club set up a one-ring trial IN THE PARKING LOT. The ring was part grass, part muck, and part asphalt. IMHO anyone who would run a dog under those conditions should be banned. If you need double Q's for nationals so badly that you run under these circumstances, you're too selfish to own a dog. What if the dog (or you) would ruin a knee, elbow, shoulder? Now who's going to Nationals?

As you can tell this has hit a sore spot with me. At what cost do we do agility?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Trials

Photography by RoxAnne Franklin.


This weekend will find us outdoors again at the LKC trial. I enjoy the fall trials--the mornings are crisp and the afternoons are pleasant. Hopefully the rain will fall on Saturday night and be done by the time classes start on Sunday.

We run in the FAST class on Saturday, which will give us a good warm-up and time to reconnect. Jack may even come and watch as FAST is now his favorite class.

Click here to view photographs from last weekend's trial in Westminster. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see Cosi and me on the Excellent standard course.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Belle of the Ball

This weekend was the SSCGB trial in Westminster. It's an all-Sheltie trial and my favorite trial of the year. This time was no exception. There's a different feel at this trial, a camaraderie because we all love the same breed, I guess. Or it could just be that Sheltie people are the *best*?!

Cosi had a great weekend with the best Excellent Standard run we've ever had. That Open jumpers Q (last leg needed) still eluded us, but the course on Saturday was fabulous. It flowed and had a high Q rate. Cosi slipped on the soccer carpet and dropped a bar. I was very pleased with our runs because it felt we were connected.

The Belle of the Ball was Summer Vidalia Bradley. From a puppy mill breeding bitch to an agility star, everyone was wowed by Summer's runs. What heart this little dog has! It was a joy to see her working.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Knitting

The sweater has officially begun! (I finished the baby blanket that I volunteered to make for a local charity. I felt I had to get that done first.) I took all of the yarn I ordered and made the skeins into balls. I made a gauge patch, and thank goodness I did! I needed to use a size larger needle than the pattern requires.

I've begun a notebook/scrapbook type of keepsake where I take a sample of the yarn, the label from the skein, and glue it on a notebook page. I then write the date, description of the project, etc. on the page. No only will it make a nice list of yarns used and projects completed, but will be a good reference for any future projects.

It is so exciting to begin a new project and see it take shape in your hands. The joy I find in knitting is twofold. I enjoy the serenity that the actual knitting brings. When I bring out my knitting basket, the dogs all find a good spot to snooze. They know we're in for a quiet time. The other joy in knitting is the process of making something, learning from mistakes, feeling creative, and--the best part--the enjoyment of giving something you made to someone.

I'm no artist like Kathy Stoltzfus, but I can appreciate how she feels about the creative process.

Shaping

Susan Garret's blog this week has been on the topic of our dogs shaping us. That's right--dogs shaping humans. Reinforcement builds behavior, and we often reinforce "cute" games our dogs come up with only to find out later on that this cute game is a pain!

When I got Cosi, he had a game with his reflection. He would look at himself (in the glass of the entertainment center, in a shiny oven door, etc.) then run into another room and bark. Come back; repeat. I didn't like this game; it seemed pointless (meaning it had nothing to do with agility!), and the barking was not something I wanted to encourage.

I use this game as an example of how our dogs do funny things, and we laugh at them. My neighbor just got a GSD puppy. I hear them in the yard with the dog, teasing it with a toy, laughing at the dog as he barks in frustration because he can't get the toy, and them laughing at the barking. I just keep thinking, "Wait until you have a full-grown GSD and you can't get an object from it because you're playing monkey-in-the-middle with the toys now."

Not that I'm any great, perfect dog owner/trainer, I just have seen the error of my ways with the exact same scenario--cute games that are funny now and make life difficult later. I am currently working on a behavior routine Cosi has devised on our walks. When he sees or hears another dog, he barks and lunges. I am working on getting him to walk by another dog without barking. It's a work in progress...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time Off

I had time off from agility trials this weekend--my only weekend in September. I took advantage of not going to a trial to go shopping with Anna. =:O)

Aurora had a great weekend with my four dogs. She is so toy driven; she is easily entertained. On Sunday we had glorious weather (about time! It poured buckets on Friday and Saturday), and I ended up walking the dogs three times on Sunday.

This weekend I will be at the Sheltie speciality trial in Westminster. Cosi will be among a number of RyLadd Shelties. This trial is often a homecoming for the RyLadd owners.

I'm thinking about not going to Massachusetts this year for the LEAP agility trial. It's a fun trial in that it is so huge (there are two rings of just Excellent dogs)and the vendors are spectacular. Cosi and I are coming together as a team, but he can't mentally hold it together for three days yet. Two days is about his maximum right now. I'm thinking of going back to Dream Park for two, two-day trials instead. But all those shopping opportunites are calling me! Hmmm....

One more thing before you go. Scroll to the bottom of this page and check out my new tickler of quotes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/9/09

Yesterday was the debut of The Beatles Rock Band game. Everything goes in cycles, so it is no surprise to me that the greatest rock band ever is surging to popularity yet again. Growing up in the '60's, I was a complete devotee of The Beatles. I remember getting my Meet The Beatles album for Christmas. It was opened and under the tree, next to my new record player. The reason it was opened was that my mother had been playing it for the previous two weeks. Before she gave it to me, she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. She said she'd put it on the hifi and clean the house, dancing to "I want to hold your hand"!

When the band members began to get married, I told my mother that Paul was waiting to marry me! We still giggle about that childish statement. I collected all their albums over the years, cherishing the music that framed my adolescent years.

And now they're part of a computer game. Who needs a computer? As a teenager I sang in front of a mirror, holding my hairbrush and pretending I was a rock star. Some things never change.

Who was *your* favorite Beatle?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

AKC Regulations for Agility

The updates from the AKC Agility Advisory Committee came out today. Many exhibitors are buzzing about the changes. I've summarized some of these recommendations for you...

No more MACH point multipliers for placing first or second.


There is now a PACH title for preferred dogs in Excellent B. (750 preferred points and 20 QQ's)


Silver, Gold, Platinum and Century titles awarded for dogs achieving 25, 50, 75 and 100 Q's from Excellent B (standard, jumpers, and FAST) classes.


A-frame height will change for 4 and 8 inch dogs to 5 feet. The 26" dogs will have a 5' 6" A-frame (like all the other dogs).


Weave pole spacing is now 24".


Table tops must be painted a light color.


The chute fabric is 6' (formerly just used in rainy conditions).


Tire change - lowered in height for all dogs, making it safer for them to jump through.


Weave poles must be completed in *three* tries for all levels (Novice, Open, and Excellent) then the team must move on! (My personal favorite!)


Position-less table - the count starts once all four paws have touch the table; neither a sit nor a down is required. (Wahoo!!! Can you say, "Way to speed up a trial!"?)


Longer course times for 24" and 26" dogs.


Preferred dogs can compete with in the preferred jump height class at the AKC National Agility Championship. (Awesome! Way to recognize hard work!)


Wow! Some of these ideas blow me away. The AKC really listened to competitors and make some huge overhauls in the regs. Now the AKC has to approve and adopt them.


What do you think?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

NJ Weekend

Cosi, Aurora, Anna, and I went to NJ for a trial this weekend. The facility was awesome; an equestrian facility that is perfect for dog trials. We had some good runs. The Excellent FAST class was were especially fun. The Send in the two courses were opposites--Saturday's was impossible and Sunday's was do-able. It was fun mapping out a strategy with Coleen today. We both ran the course the same: She Q'd with her BC. It was a thing of beauty to watch.

Marilyn was very successful with Summer, her sheltie. This was Summer's first AKC trial. She came through like a trooper. The judge was a little too close on one course, but Summer's will to work won out. She Q'd in Novice and looked fabulous.

We may be going back to this site to trial, but will *definitely* not be staying at the Motel 6, a flea-infested hole of a motel. Both our dogs got fleas. The washer is running as I write this. Everything that we took to the trial will go through a good washing--toys, mats, collars, and beds.

The other plus from the weekend was a gear purchase. I finally found a chair to replace mine that is falling apart at the seams. It will be embroidered with Cosi's monogram...very exciting! (Shhh. Don't tell Jack.)