Sunday, October 31, 2010

Playing in the Dirt on Halloween

Cosi's standard run from Halloween weekend.

This Halloween weekend found us playing in the dirt at Dillsburg. There were some very challenging courses this weekend. On Saturday we missed a good standard run by just one dropped bar--same ol' curse haunting us! But the standard course on Sunday was very technical. The big dogs were biting the dust, usually within the first five obstacles. Yikes! I was so thrilled that Cosi and I actually finished this run--with just one dropped bar.

In the FAST class we had a near perfect experience on Sunday. A perfect score in FAST is 80 points; we ended up with 79. Too cool!

The crowning achievement this weekend was in jumpers on Sunday. It was a "gimmee" course--not technical, no fancy moves, just run, jump, tunnel, weave, and out. Thank goodness. We Q'd and got our second leg needed in Excellent A. Our time was 25.83--the exact same time of the first place Excellent B dog on the same course!

No more ghosts and gobblins for us. And I'm not haunted by what "could have been." We tricked the judges and got treats at the end of the day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Transferring the Value

Every morning after they get their kibbles and supplements, my dogs enjoy a special treat--a garlic and brewer's yeast biscuit. They enjoy these biscuits so much, I decided to transfer the value they see in these treats to brushing their coats. It was my goal to have them want to be brushed. It was also selfish; I wanted to cut down on my weekly grooming time by doing a quick, daily maintenance. Here was my process.

After the bowls are licked clean (Jenny and Cosi make up the Bowl Patrol), I pick up a slicker brush. Cosi is first and gets a quick brush down his back, around to the front to his ruff, then the feathers on his legs and finally his tail. Mike is next, then Brisco. Finally, Jenny gets her ears brushed first (they seem to get tangles in them) and then the rest of her curls. When I'm finished brushing, everyone gets into his respective crate to wait for the treat distribution.

I started this routine this summer. This morning I saw the fruits of my labors. They actually queued up for getting brushed! Brisco barked when he was next, as if to say, "Hurry up!" Jenny is now positioning her head at a cocked angle, giving me access to the first ear without any prompting.

What does your dog value? Could you transfer that to something (like grooming) that you would like them to do? I'm here to tell you, it stinkin' works!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Follow up

Here's the article on CNN where I read about Steven Boyd and his dog that says grace (yesterday's entry). Click here to read the story. It's quite inspiring--both the man's and the dog's story.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saying Grace

Here's a great way to start your day...

This man gave this video to his mother as her Christmas present last year. Not having a lot of money, they decided to exchange gifts that were written or hand-made. I especially love the last part of the prayer about the neightbor's cat!

Grooming Tip

My poodle, Jenny, has, like most poodles, runny eyes. I think she has allergies because sometimes the girl can s-n-o-r-e. The stains on her face from the eye discharge are tough to deal with, and I've tried many things. However, I think I've finally found the solution.
Jenny is on Angel Eyes, a supplement that she gets with her morning meal. This stops a lot of the discharge from her allergies. But her fur is still darkened and detracts from her beautiful poodle expression. I stumbled upon this solution: one night as I was getting ready for bed, I was washing my face with a new product. I was using an Olay cleansing cloth. On an impulse, after I was finished, I took the cloth (it only had a bit of soap left in it) and used it on Jenny's face. I knew it wouldn't sting because I use it to remove my eye makeup. After a week of using my "second hand" facial cloths, Jenny's tear stains are gone. She has to be more comfortable without that sticky stuff clumping up her fur. Not to mention she's gorgeous now without that running mascara look on her eyes. Who knew? Maybe Olay shouold feature her in their next commercial!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Congratulations on a Good Showing at USDAA Nationals

Congratulations to Coleen and Jett on finishing third at USDAA Nationals in Gamblers. The HOT Agility Club had a party for Coleen at our club meeting. We had pinched a photo of Jett from Coleen's house while she was away and had a photo cake made. We decorated the table with the original photo, their ribbon and medal from Nationals. Congratulations to a well-deserving team who puts fun at the center of every run.

The photo cake.

The ribbon, medal, and original picture.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No Jury Would Convict You

A co-worker came into the office today feeling frustrated. She told us this story:

In her laundry room she has a spray bottle with a water and Fabreeze mixture. When she gets her summer/winter clothes out of storage, she sprays them with this mixture so they smell fresh. She got out some sweaters yesterday, misted them and let them dry. She noticed an odd pattern on some of the sweaters. The mixture had never affected her clothes before. Hmmm...time to question the children. It seems that her teenage son had a problem with a wasp in his room. He took the spray bottle, emptied it and mixed Colorox bleach and water. The mixture took care of the wasp, so he returned the bottle to the laundry room. Tell Mom? No. Why bother her with these details.

We all agreed that no jury would convict her. This story reminded me of a sitcom scenario. Unfortunately, it was true. We told her we liked her sweater, that the pattern added to the appearance. She didn't believe our fib.

Saturday Night Live

This weekend's trial at Dillsburg was like an episode of SNL. Now, you have to know that I'm talking about the old SNL, the ones with John Belushi and Steve Martin that I would watch in college in the '70's.

On Saturday we had a stinky FAST run. Just plain ugly. We were like "two wild and crazy guys!" OK. Got the kinks out...on to Standard. Well, apparently the FAST class stinkies were just the beginning. We were awful in Standard and Jumpers, bars down all over da place.

On Sunday we Q'd in FAST and took first place. Then in Standard we had a clean run going until we hit the serepentine, which was in the last five obstacles. I was too close to the second stantion when I called him over, and he dropped the bar. Stupid! Stupid! (like Chris Farley). I checked his time: 40 seconds and change. Winning dog time: 43 seconds. Grrr. In Jumpers we had a blazing run going until the weaves and I cued my send to the next jump too early. He popped at good ol' #10, and we were done.

It's like my friend, Rosanne Rosanna Danna says, "It's always something!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Small Trials

I went to a one-ring trial on Monday and Tuesday this week. First of all, it was hard to say "Monday"; we all kept saying "Saturday." Or we'd say, "We did well this weekend." Then we'd laugh, realizing that it wasn't the weekend. The up side is that the work week is shortened for me. I only have to work three days, then it's back to agility on Saturday and Sunday. Ahhh. I could get use to a schedule like that.

Cosi and I were on fire on Tuesday. In FAST he got the send, but I stepped on the line. I felt like I should have been wearing big clown shoes! What a rookie mistake. He even had 78 points--a great run. There were no yellow copy sheets at this trial, so I didn't know the results until I checked the monitor at the secretary's table. They had Cosi as qualified. That wasn't right, and I told them so. They showed me his sheet; the scribe had circled Send Bonus instead of Fault. I told them I had stepped on the line, and the judge--who was right next to me--called "fault." They looked at me, confused. I said, "Do what you want, but it's not a correct score." When the judge checked the scores, she recalled the run. We didn't Q, so the record is correct.

The standard course on Tuesday was great; there were challenges, but the course really flowed. We were totally connected, and Cosi turned in a time of 36.9, with only one dropped bar (heart breaker!). The jumpers course was flat-out fun. The course was fast, and the 24" and 20" dogs were done in no time. Cosi and I were third dog in the 16" class and smoked the course with a time of 25.4. All the bars stayed up, but he turned wide on a rear cross and we got a refusal when he went past the plane of the next jump before I could call him back. Ratz. That run is like a sore tooth; I just won't let it alone in my mind. I wish we had a mulligan in agility. I'd love to run that course again. Maybe we can convice the AKC that you get one Do Over. Think they'll go for it? LOL

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall Projects

Now that the days are getting noticeably shorter, I turn to knitting. With evenings beginning at 7 instead of 9, I find that I walk the dogs earlier and sit and knit longer. I knit only a few things over the summer--some hats and baby blankets for a local women's shelter. These were quick projects that I could make and still have time for long dog walks and agility practice.

A co-worker gave me some lovely alpaca yarn (she has an alpaca farm!), so I began surfing the web looking for patterns. I decided on a hat and mitten set. The yarn is multi-colored in muted shades of brown, rust, and green. I thought a plain pattern (no cables or fancy stitches) would be good. Let the yarn color be the "star" of the project. I've never made mittens before. I like to try new patterns and learn new techniques.

I'm a teacher. I show adults how to use their computers. I think knitting is a lot like computer use. You don't learn everything there is to know about computers in one lesson or one work project. You pick up tidbits here and there, as you need them, in context of something you need to know to get the job done. Same with knitting. You don't learn every stitch, every technique just by knitting one pattern. Each project tests your knowledge and stretches you to learn something new. The most amazing part of knitting is that it's been around for eons, and most of the knowledge is passed down by word of mouth, by one person sitting with another, showing them how to slip stitches or make a cable. Knitters are networked like crazy! All you have to do is ask for help, and an avalanche of experience is available to you.

The other byproduct of knitting that I enjoy is the peace. When I knit, I sort my thoughts, tune out the world when I need to concentrate on the pattern, revel in the knowledge that I'm making something for someone, and just enjoy being. My dogs recognize the knitting basket. When I take it down from the top of the entertainment center cabinet, they all take up napping positions. They know Mom's going to sit for a while, and you might as well get 40 winks. So knitting is a relaxing time for them, too. How cool is that?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Agility Trials

At last weekend's agility trial, a large group of us from the same training center crated together, watched each other's runs, groaned about the challenges on courses, and congratulated each other on great runs (Q or no Q). As I was thinking about last week's trial, I realized what a plus this was for Cosi and me.

When I was working as a timer, my classmate came and said Cosi was distressed in his crate and should she take him outside to potty. How kind! I never would have known Cosi was having a tough time (tunred out he *did* have to potty--NOW!) if it weren't for this wonderful network of kindhearted folks.

So this blog post is a big shout out and THANK YOU to all the terrific people who train at Canine Companions: Judy, Beth, Sharon, Conny, Patti, Julie, Barb, and our fearless leader, Coleen. Thanks for good times and fun memories.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Our First Excellent B Q!

Cosi and I went the LKC trial this weekend, and what fun courses! The standard and jumpers runs on Saturday were close, but we had an off-course in standard and a dropped bar (just one on a gorgeous run!) in jumpers. The FAST course on Saturday was good, but I didn't snag enough points.

On to Sunday. The standard course was tough requiring a lead-out pivot and a 90 degree turn to the dog walk. Then there was a serpentine after the weaves to the table. By then I was thinking, "Wow. We're clean so far! Breathe!!" We finished the run with a time of 43 and change.

I looked at the jumpers course map. Oh, my...there were two serpentines, two pinwheels, a wrap, and rear crosses all over da place. I was unsure about handling the opening, and we did drop one bar. But the rest of the run was glorious. We were connected and running like a true team. What a rush! I went to check on the standard results, and to my surprise we took first. The cherry on the sundae!

Here's the Excellent B standard run from Sunday, first place in 16" class, for 48 MACH points: