Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Four Jumps - Backyard sequences Part Eight

Pulled from yesterday's Summer Sequencing course - here are a few in the Four-Jump series.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Sequencing: June 29th, 2010

The JWW course for tonight's Summer Sequencing Series....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Patience is a virtue...

Patience may be a virtue - but it's not one that the yellow dogs possess....Particularly when they've been stuck in an expen all morning while I setup for and taught classes today. They didn't get to work today so they were eager to play when we got home this afternoon.

Murphy seems to have fully rebounded from his oral surgery earlier this week (papilloma removal) and while he desperately needs a grooming (he's blowing ALL of his coat right now) and a trim he's definitely ready for his afternoon swim.

Teller (who requires virtually no grooming - but is also in need of an ear/paw trim) is showing a bit of restraint this afternoon. Usually he vaults himself over the side of the pool rather than just standing at the railing - yep - he regularly jumps over the 4' pool wall  into the pool. Seems like going through the gate would be easier. Someone neglected to tell Woo that he is not an eventing horse - agility dogs don't  need to "do" water hazards.

FAST Seminar Materials.

I'm not going to post all of the FAST Seminar materials on the blog, but I am posting the two FAST courses that we worked on today...

The first sequence (map corrected). All obstacles are bi-directional except for 4, 5, 6 and 10.

The second sequence (map corrected). All obstacles bi-directional (except 8 obviously).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Agility Skills Class - June 24th, 2010

Thursday night agility skills class...Tonight's theme is....
S is for Serpentine

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Since the Glee episode containing "Defying Gravity" I've become a fan of the Wicked soundtrack (one of my favorites to sing in the shower)  and have made plans (hopefully) to go see the musical - but somehow missed that the musical was based on a pre-existing novel - not directly from Frank Balm's perennial classic "Wizard of Oz". So when in the course of conversation I became aware of Gregory Maguire's "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" I HAD to download it for my next few road-trips (and at over 19 hours it did take a couple of weeks and a couple of roadtrips to complete).

I started this book with certain expectations - primarily to fall into the story immediately, to be at home and to be comfortable with the characters. I was surprised that I wasn't immediately enveloped in the story. There's a slow start and build-up to the meat of the story. There was a lot of back story to get through.

The story does stand on it's own as do the characters - Wicked is not simply the Wizard of Oz told from another point of view - there are characters in common: Elpheba, Gilinda, The Wizard and of course Dorothy -but the plot and story line are entirely unique. Wicked neither complimented "Wizard of Oz" nor detracted from it. The reader (listener) should not expect to follow the storyline of Balm's work - nor should they have any expectations of who the characters are (or aren't) based on the classic.

 I've seen the Wizard of Oz movie perhaps 200 times (it's one of my all-time favorites) and have always viewed the wizard as a benevolent (albeit confused) man who just so happened to drift into Oz and the Emerald City, not as a dictator with aspirations to exterminate entire races to instill himself as emperor. I was not conditioned to view Elpheba (the wicked witch) as a woman - a mortal with human faults and conditions - loving, living - a political statement in defence of the Animals. Glinda as an upwardly aspired socialite looking for the proper husband during her time at University.

The story does talk about Animals and animals - this is initially confusing when listening to the story as the narrator does not distinguish between Animal and animal. Is this lion an animal or an animal? Like the old song about potatoes and tomatoes from a literal sense the words are pronounced and spelled the same. Animals (capital A) are beasts with a soul - Dr Dillymond (a goat) the life sciences professor at Shiz, cows that talk and mourn the loss of their children as veal. This contrasts with "animals" (no capitalization) that are the beasts we know from this realm. What makes an animal an Animal? How does an animal mother bear an Animal offspring? The Emperor Wizard is adamantly against Animals and works to remove their place in society it is on this point that the Wizard and Elpheba are initially pitted against each other.

Overall this was a good listen - it was entertaining and it was unexpected. I did not expect to be sympathetic to poor old green "Elphie" and I did not expect to root against Dorothy (and poor ugly yappy Toto). If you have seen the musical there is content from the book (a lot of it) that is not included in the musical - details that spin the court of opinion. There are other books in the Wicked series (the next one is "Son of a Witch") and I'm going to work my way to those eventually. My current listen is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (and at 17 hours I've got some time before I circle back to the Wicked series).

"Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" was written by Gregory Maguire and narrated by John McDonough. The original novel was published on January 1st, 1995, Audio copyright is by Recorded Books release date November 16th, 2005. The unabridged version runs 19 hours 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SAAC AKC Agility Trial - June 19-21st, 2010

Back to Greenwich for SAAC's Summer AKC agility trial. Teller picked up two more JWW legs (and some assorted MACH points) and one mistake each standard run - though not our contacts this weekend! I'm pleased - it was a fun weekend with good friends and great dogs!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Teller gets mail....

We were "A Cheerful Pet's" 300th Facebook Fan and won a prize pack of (what else) toys from A Cheerful Pet!!! I came home from the trial today and there was the package on the doorstep. How exciting! Teller Woo gets mail!

OMG! There's cool stuff in there!

Look Murph, it's a RingZee Ball!

AND a frizee!!!

AND a huge Tugzee! Murph, you take that end I'll take this end...ready? Pull!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Things we like: Trial stuff and Gear

A golden friend (getting ready for her first trial) asked me about trial gear. What should she get in preparation to trial - what things did I wish I had known and planned for. What an excellent topic! And timely too as we're smack in the middle of summer and when we're out training and trialing we've got to keep our dogs cool, comfortable and SAFE.

First and foremost - silver mesh shade cloths. In the time between April and November I don't go anywhere without them. With a bit of planning, proper packing and thought it is possible to keep dogs safe in their crates inside a car - even on a hot summer day. In order to do so, all windows (and tailgate) need to be open and the entire car covered with reflective silver mesh including the front window (which can be done with a non-breathable reflective tarp instead). Wind and air curculation can pass through the weave, but sun is reflected. These cloths can tear so storage and application need to be cautious. I've secured them a few different ways but have found that it's easiest to open all four doors of my truck (SUV), position the mesh and then close the doors over the cloth.

This allows me to close the windows and run the AC (if I need to) without having to remove the cloth. This method also keeps the cloth in place - even in heavy winds.  I use a second cloth to tent around the tailgate hatch and the dogs, this one secured to the other tarp and closed in the back with alligator clips. Because this mesh has a tendency to snag I have a giant L.L.Bean tote that holds my two 10'x12' mesh shade cloths when they aren't in use...Check out what my setup looks like for most trials - taken this weekend. The ambient temperature was about 85 degrees, moderate humidity - I closed up the car (windows and hatch) and ran the AC a few times to recharge the cool, but both boys were comfortable all weekend - even when the inside of the building was steamy.
Depending on the application and your vehicle specs, have plenty of alligator clips, bungees, and ball bungees - all easy to store and handy to have around. I've found that Pet Edge has the best pricing on shade cloths, though sometimes runs specials for first time purchasing - and yes, the same product is cheaper from than even though they are the same company and share a shopping cart.

Cool Coats: Some of the shorthaired dogs can get some relief from the heat with a cold water rinse - with a breed like goldens however, a soaking rinse might help initially, but as their body warms the water trapped in their coats it can actually make them hotter. Dogs don't sweat on their bodies, only on their feet. However, we can leverage technology to help dogstake advantage of evaporative cooling. These cool coats from Saratoga Horseworks are gems - exactly for that purpose. When they are bone dry they reflect the sun off the backs of our dogs - slide your hand under the coat and the surface of the dog's coat is considerably cooler - the effect is more so for darker dogs. My habit on hot days is to soak the coat in cold (ice) water to get the dog to the ring, we take the coat off to run and then back on to walk back to the car or tent. Some folks carry spray bottles of water and rubbing alcohol and spritz the coats when they put them back on their dogs after a run. When we get back to the car I re-wet/recharge the coat and put a fan on (over) the dog - the evaporation will cool the dogs. You've got to watch the cooling though - it is possible for dogs to get too cold.

GlycoCharge: Does it really help the dogs recover from activity? I don't really think so. Does it help water go down? Yeah. Is it hard sometimes to keep a dog hydrated on the road? With my guys it is. So if it helps keep them hydrated to my satisfaction, than it's worth it. Basically liver flavored water. Yummmm. In a pinch chicken bullion serves the same purpose (or baby food, or over-hydrating their Honest Kitchen, or a bit of Iams gravy topper in a bunch of water, or....).

Tents: I used to pack and setup a tent at every trial. I have a couple of ex-ups (neither are easy to assemble solo) and also a screen house from Mighty-Mite dog gear. I loved this tent - I still do. I was never quite able to set it up by myself - it's way easier with a second person. It's incredibly stable in the wind (when properly secured) and it's comfortable to spend time in - rain, hail, wind, sun or snow flurries (yep - been there done that). When one of the legs broke I emailed both the manufacturer (Pinnacle) and Mighty Mites and bot parties responded right away - Pinnacle sent me a replacement joint and Mighty Mites sent me an entire replacement leg (how cool is that). Wicked good customer service and a good product - hard to beat that. I haven't used it this year though as I'm mostly sticking to indoor trials where I work out of the car or I have my dogs in the building with me. When I do work out of a tent ringside those same mesh tarps are applied to the tent.

Synthetic Chamois: Used mostly to wash cars, these chamois (available at every walmart) are handy to dry dogs off at the motels - but when dipped in cold water help cool the dogs off (over their backs or laying on them). Breed handlers use these on the ground and have their charges stand on them - keeps their feet cool which helps keep the dogs cooler - a cooler dog on a hot day usually shows better than a hot dog on a hot day....

There's more of course - but that's the important stuff for now!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Everything I need to know I learned in agility: Lesson One

The folks at Clean Run posted the essay below on their facebook page - perfect timing I think on a day when I needed both a sanity check and a big picture view of the world...A lucky guy who was in the right place at the right time. On a more personal (and trivial) note, some green curry from the Tiny Thai went a long way towards making me feel better tonight!

Near Tragedy at a Trial
By Jeff Ipser with photo by Sharon Ipser
I am one very lucky person. So many things went right that if it happened differently I would not be here today.
I took a day of vacation to run Friday, April 30, at the Cleveland Shetland Sheepdog Club’s first three day trial weekend of the year, held in North Olmsted, Ohio. I had run my Bearded Collie, Zoom, in Standard; we qualified. It was about 9:30AM…….

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Agility Skills Class - June 17th, 2010

It's going to be an outdoor JWW course tonight...based on the "summer sequencing" course from Tuesday night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday Agility Skills Classes - June 16th, 2010

I had planned a JWW course outside - a nested version of last night's Summer Sequencing course. Alas, having planned in advance and setup the course last night, the weather forecast changed and it RAINED all afternoon with a threat of thunderstorms. So, think fast! I scrambled a bit and built a modified standard course...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Intro Class: Introduction to Crosses 101

Some documentation on the crosses we talked about last night.

Front Crosses: Dog's path in Green, Handler path in Navy. Remember you are turning towards your dog for a front cross.

Rear Crosses: Dog's path in Green, Handler path in Navy. Key point here is to support the dog's path over the jump while they move ahead of you to the jump, your motion is lateral. Think Half-Pass not a straight line.

Homework this week is to practice front-crosses on the flat - don't be afraid to work these without your dogs - front crosses are tough! Work you first, when you've got it add in your dog. Remember to work both sides! Reward your dogs for turning towards you and treat (click) on the "new" side.

Bonus reading from Agility Nerd:

Summer Sequencing: June 15th, 2010

The course from tonight's Summer Sequencing class...70 degrees, sunny - just a hint of a breeze. PERFECT Agility weather!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mayflower Corgi Club Agility Trial

What a whirlwind day today - leaving at the crack of dawn (and trust me - we're not crack of dawn people) to drive down to NH, have our 90 seconds in the ring and then make the return trip home again!

Another JWW leg for Teller (and a handful of MACH points - I'm not counting them yet) - and a decent standard run (NQ on a weave entry) - Truly more positive than negative about that standard run- even if I am bummed about the weave entry. His (our) contacts were good (A-FRAME!) and I really feel like I handled him well - particularly the #11 tunnel entry and the turn to the teeter...and the best part is that we live to trial another day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Run-Throughs....June 13th, 2010

It was such a busy week this week I really didn't have a chance to work my own dog very much - I think the time off was good for Teller but we needed to get some equipment reps in this weekend. So I offered to run a special Sunday "Run-Through" session...Nested courses today - the BLUE map is a full Standard course and the RED map is something I put together for the beginning dogs that aren't yet working a full height teeter (an easier sequence and no teeter).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rally Class - June 12th, 2010

The course for today's Advanced/Excellent rally class.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Waiting is the hardest part....

The folks at The Honest Kitchen asked for pictures of dogs waiting for their Honest Kitchen meals - It only takes five minutes for THK food to properly rehydrate - but that's a long time in dog years!!! Here's Teller waiting (but not patiently) for his Embark...Do we feel badly for him?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Agility Skills Class - June 10th, 2010

Busy week this week so to improve efficiency I recycled the setup from the previous night's classes for the Thursday night class.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wednesday Agility Skills Classes - June 9th, 2010

Here's the course from the June 9th Agility Skills classes (both sessions). Fun abbreviated standard course today with some really good dog and handler challenges. Inside tonight due to weather.

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

"It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery."
The Grim Reaper From "The Book Thief"

"The Book Thief" came highly recommended from the wife of a co-worker - I made the selection without really looking into what I was downloading - downloading it at 11pm and then hitting the road for a trial at 5am the next morning. It was a rapid impulse decision that ended up being one of the best books I've read or listened to in the last five years - if not my hands-down favorite.

It wasn't until I was about half way through the story that I realized it was written as young adult/childrens' literature - and had received much acclaim - all well deserved I might add.

The premise of the story (and again no spoilers here - sorry) could be very depressing and morbid - but somehow Markus Zusak tells the plight of a young foster child (Liesel Meminger) living in Nazi Germany with a love for the girl, the characters and the time period. The story is narrated by the grim reaper - even if he doesn't quite use that term himself. Such a premise could easily be dark or contrived - but the story isn't either. It's busy work for the grim reaper during that time period - there is lots of death and lots of sadness...yet on three occasions he crosses paths with the book thief - each time bolstering his faith in a small portion of humanity.  Liesel is turned into foster care when her sick mother can no longer care for her (and her younger brother). Liesel's brother dies on the journey to Munich - at the cemetery Liesel (who cannot read) steals her first book and her journey (and her love of books) begins. In her foster home her kind (but tough) foster parents shape her love of reading and her love of books - books literally (and figuratively) save Liesel over and over again.

The Book Thief is narrated by Allan Corduner - his narration of the Book Thief's story was expertly implemented and all-consuming. With most books I've listened to there are a couple hours of introduction that need to be worked through to get to the meat of the story - not so with "The Book Thief" - which grabs the reader, shakes them and then pulls them along into the story. The war progresses, Hitler savages humanity along the way - and the war unfolds from the perspective of god-fearing German citizens - a vantage point not often depicted in WWII era literature.

The Book Thief  was written by Markus Zusak and narrated by Allan Corduner. The Book Thief was published by Listen Library and was released on September 14th, 2006. The unabridged version of "The Book Thief" runs at 13 hours and 56 minutes.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Summer Sequencing: June 8th, 2010

The Summer Sequencing courses for June 8th, 2010. Nested Excellent and Novice.



Monday, June 07, 2010

NSDTRCA (Toller) AKC Agility Trial

What a weekend! Great times: good friends, nice courses, fun runs and a new title for Teller-Woo!

At the top of the list this weekend were Teller's a-frames. I babysat all three of them - but he got all of them - and solidly nailed them. I'm working on fixing his striding over the apex (getting rid of the extra stride before the apex) but while we're working on that I NEED to get some standard Q's!! So my plan this weekend was to really baby-sit the contacts - MAKE them happen. I did and it paid off on the a-frame. Whew! Still a work in progress - but we've got a plan.

Saturday morning we had a bit of a bobble on our JWW run - and it wasn't entirely pretty - but we pulled off a Q for Teller's 10th excellent B JWW leg - his MXJ! We added a few more points on Sunday and Monday with two more JWW legs. We weren't as connected in our standard runs - I think we saw some fallout from rubber at LEAP last weekend and now back to sand. The plan is to get out there and see some rubber surfaces that we can work on. I don't think we'll see rubber again in competition until August so we've got some time to work out the kinks. We had a lovely standard run this afternoon that I botched with a rear-cross at the double. Silly. Teller lived up to his end of the bargain and earned himself a cheeseburger from McDonalds on the way home :-) Some people have "munchkins" we have cheeseburgers.

I'm SO pleased with the connection we had for our runs this weekend - We're really coming together (thanks Katie) and the runs are showing that. Onward!

Our runs from the weekend:

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Agility Skills Class - June 3rd, 2010

Theme of the night: "is that a chuck-it in your pocket or...".

I took a bit of a gamble on the weather tonight and setup the sequence outside in the yard. The skies cleared at about 6:10 and it was a lovely night outside on a novice(ish) JWW course - lots of good distractions outside (bunnies, bunny poo, a persistent seagull and the ever-present Wally the Groundhog on the other side of the fence - not to mention the opportunities for off courses and handler distractions. The dogs and handlers did really well tonight - they were even good sports when I took all their course numbers away!!!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Summer Sequencing: June 1st, 2010

The course from tonight's summer sequencing class - inspired by the JWW courses from this weekend at LEAP.