Sunday, October 31, 2010

The road sign read "AX"...

So, not the actual "tag" - and not my photo. get the idea.
As I was driving to Massachusetts on Friday to pack up some servers in a datacenter (and my dogs with me on the way to the Granite State Sheltie Club trial) I noticed graffiti on the back of a highway sign (south-bound just north of the 293/93 junction) that read "AX". I don't what the "tag" was for - but it made me smile - an omen. A SIGN! The road to Teller's AX has been a tough one - contacts have been so hard for us...if not the a-frame, the dogwalk, then his teeter issue popping up at the end of summer. Then there have been the (many) standard runs when it's been my error or miscalculation that has cost us a Q. We're consistently putting in JWW Q's (we're better than 90% Q rate in JWW) - we just haven't come together in standard. It's time - there's my sign.

Saturday morning started early - JWW - tall to small - Woo was the 8th dog online - bleary eyed and optimistic we started the day with a Q (unfortunately no video of that run). Not a bad way to start the weekend Woo!

Saturday's standard was a lovely course - I left the walk pretty early because I was frustrated with my fellow walkers - too many conversations in the middle of the ring and too many people randomly stopping and spinning for no reason. I went out to my van to get Teller's cookies and just visualized for a few minutes - re-centered myself and collected Teller. His standard run was ON, he was honest and we were clean. When we got to the second tunnel you can hear the timer SCREAMING at the judge that there was a timing malfunction. Timers - if there's a malfunction stop the dog before obstacle #5 or don't stop them at all. I ignored the screaming timer and finished the course. The rules are pretty clear - if the run was otherwise clean there are two options: dog and handler may choose to run the course for time only (no faults are judged) OR if the judge believes that the dog was at or under SCT the handler may elect to take SCT. Since we were in Excellent A and time really doesn't count for anything important (no points involved), I elected for SCT before he even gave me the option :-) A few folks told me I should have re-run it for training purposes - but when my dog gives me 100% effort - I'm not going to ask him to do it again without a compelling reason to do so.  Watching the video I timed about 56 for the run (more or less) - that's pretty consistent with one of Teller's standard runs which typically vary between 3.0 and 4.0 YPS. SCT was 66.

Yes Race-Fans - that's a QQ for T-Woo! Teller is now Can CH, AX, MXJ, NAP, NJP, CD, RN, CGC, CGN....

Today's runs were a mixed bag. Teller flicked off on a wrong course in our standard run (to the chute after the panel instead of the weaves) - I'm not at all sure why he did it. After we NQ'ed I pushed his table a little and he came off - good to know - I have a lot of distance/duration on the table at home - I haven't poked at what we have in trial - I'm not entirely sure that I told him to wait either. In JWW Teller missed his weave entry - this one was all on me - I got too far ahead and pushed him into the second gate.

Now for the good stuff - Teller's contacts were good all weekend. I'm finally feeling like our work is paying off. This is the second trial weekend (the first was Syracuse) where he got all of his contacts in all of his runs...OK, he's not stopping in the contacts like he does at home, but he's putting in the strides, checking himself and getting into the yellow. So I've got a game plan and we'll keep going.  On a purely selfish note, I'm relieved that any future QQ's will count towards the big "M"...points are coming along as well.

The judge this weekend was Rob Robinson - I've never trialed under him before - but was pleasantly surprised at both his courses - open, challenging and fair for both the tall and small - as well as his demeanor, enthusiasm for the sport and kindness to exhibitors...I hope decision makers for other "local" clubs felt the same and invite him back for future weekends....

Woo's vid from the weekend:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Four Jumps - Backyard sequences Part Fifteen

So it may be getting colder out there - but, the ground isn't frozen yet! How about another four-jump sequence?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ten iPhone Apps for the "Pet-Set"

An email sent to my folks on Friday afternoon carried the following subject line: "I Drank the Kool-Aid" and ended with the default device signature line "Sent from my iPhone". So yeah, I did it. After long-resisting the mass iPhone (and smartphone) hysteria I finally pulled that trigger and purchased an iPhone and not just ANY iPhone - I went with the iPhone 4. 
Yep, I drank the Kool-Aid....and it was apple

Then the next morning at the crack of dawn I headed off to the MVKC obedience trial - inadvertently leaving my laptop's power adapter at home - effectively forcing me onto the iPhone to get on the net. I spent a good portion of Saturday playing with the iPhone - browsing for apps and figuring my way around....and I really didn't expect to say this, but I'm already dependent on it and I'm  strangely OK with that... It's a great tool for so many reasons and I can do much more on it than I ever anticipated being able to do. As one of my iPhone carrying co-workers so gleefully said on Monday "Wow, you've got to be one of the fastest iPhone converts ever!" Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.... 

I spent quite a bit of time poking around the App Store looking for cool apps to play with. I downloaded a few (some of them were deleted almost immediately). I was warned by a fellow iPhone owner that the app store was a dangerous place - you could need a second mortgage if you aren't careful - and that second mortgage would come $1.99 at a time...

I found a few useful apps for dog show folks, pet owners, competitors and anyone else who might need to keep track of points, vaccinations and registration numbers. Here are my top 10 iphone apps for this group I'll call the "Pet-Set".

Agility Vision's iLog
1) Agility Vision's iLog:
Published by our friends at Agility Vision (the same folks who bring us livestream and DVDs of the AKC National Championships, European Open, FCI, etc), iLog ($19.99) effectively replaces the classic agility records book - plus some. It takes a while to get everything setup - your dogs' names, registration numbers, microchip numbers - all optional information - but numbers I need to have with me anyhow. Once you have a dog created you can start adding events (and runs). You enter the static information such as date, venue, club name, dog's name, jump height, SCT, time, Q/NQ, yards per second, judge's name, class, surface, etc and iLog wlll calculate MACH points. double Q's and YPS. Over time you can look at YPS over various surfaces and trial sites. There's even the ability to photograph your course map and store it with your dog's results for that course. SLICK! I spent a couple of hours entering Teller's runs for the last year or so - trying to get his MACH points in iLog to match AKC's records - I think I've accomplished that, but with the AKC lag in processing results I won't know for sure for another week or so - I'm within 5 points though! Agility Vision also produces a course designing app (Agility iMap) and a Rally Signs flashcard app.

2) DogPark Finder
Dog Park Finder
I'm generally not a fan of dog parks - I find that there are WAY too many owners who are intent on bringing dogs who are wholly not suitable for that kind of environment. I'm not a fan of "let them work it out" and I will not subject my dogs to the aggression, resource guarding and bullying that go on at most dog parks...however, I have two dogs that are very much accustomed to getting out and running off-leash every day AND I travel a lot. It's sometimes hard to find a place to let them run and fetch off-leash. I have found a few parks here and there that are relatively clean and I've been able to find times when there aren't a lot (or any) other dogs at the park (dinner time is a perfect time to hit most parks).  I distinctly remember visiting my parents in Virginia last fall and driving for HOURS from park to park to park looking for a place where my dogs could be off-leash. If I had this app I could have found one (40 minutes away) and waited for a suitable time to take them out. 
DogPark Finder by DogParkUSA is a FREE app, though there is a paid version (DogPark Finder Plus) for $1.99 which promises 250,000 more parks, beaches and trails than the free app. And includes data on dogpark amenities such as benches and bathrooms.

3) Rally Obedience by ACD Services Inc.
Rally Obedience is a flash card application for all current rally signs in AKC, APDT, UKC and ASCA. Some limited ability to put together a course (called a practice area). Rally Obedience is $.99 at the App Store.

4) iBooks and the AKC regulations documents
My iBooks loaded with
AKC rules and regs
iBooks by Apple Inc is native on the IOS 4.0. With iBooks you can download various out of copyright titles (I'm actually reading Alice in Wonderland at the moment), but iBooks can also open and manage PDF files. I didn't initially see the benefit here - now I do! I've downloaded all of the regulations books I might ever need access to: Obedience Regulations, Agility Regulations, AKC Agility Judges' Guidelines, Rules Applying to Dog Shows, Dealing with Misconduct (I'm often on various event committees for the local obedience/rally and agility trials). Now I've got all the answers at my fingertips - almost instantly! Slick eh?

5) Dog Show Pro by Brian Beninger ($1.99)
Dog Show Pro is to Conformation shows what iLog is to agility trials. Scalable for multiple dogs (I'm thinking professional handlers should make use of this app!), Dog Show Pro has sections to add each dog (Name, date of birth, Registration numbers (AKC, CKC, etc), Breeder and Owner. You can use Dog Show Pro to keep track of wins and points - but also enter opening and closing dates for upcoming shows. There's also a space for breed club information - including reminders when dues are - ummm - due. I've written to Mr. Beninger  (aka Grandpa Brian) in the hopes that he'll publish an obedience/rally record keeping application as well...

MyPets Info
Q the Kitty
6) MyPets Info by Gilbert Farabaugh (FREE)
MyPets Info is a database application that keeps records on all of your critters: Dog, Cat, Horse, Frog, Rabbit, Bird, Hamster, Iguana, Mouse, Turtle, Fish or "other". Here you can manage license and registration numbers, Vet's name and numbers, vaccination schedules and expirations. It's not a super powerful database application - but it's a free app and it serves as advertised. Plus, I really try to make sure that my "other" gets into the vet for it's annual vacinations.

7) DogTracker by Jonathan Hendrix ($1.99)
In a similar vein to MyPets Info is DogTracker. DogTracker is considerably more robust though - with a hint of nag. Fluffy is due for her bath and grooming. Your dog license needs to be renewed tomorrow. Users can configure daily routines and email reports of activities to multiple owners. I can see how this might be a great app for boarding facilities - but honestly it's a bit more detail than I really need to track (if you know what I mean).

8) Fido Factor - Dog Friendly Guide by Ketu Patel (FREE)
Calling itself the "ultimate mobile guide to dog friendly locations", The Fido Factor content is user generated, so the DB is constantly growning. Categories include Restaurants, Beaches, Pet Stores, Services (Groomers), Lodging and Veterinarians. 

9) 130 Dog Treats by iTech Simplified, LLC ($.99)
Regulations for Agility Trials
iBooks by Apple, Inc
Not so much an app per se, but a cookbook of pet treats. I didn't count all of them but I presume there are indeed 130 different recipes for dog treats - most with cute names like "Poodle Pasta", "ShihTzu Sushi" and "Sheltie Scones". Note: There's a Labrador Loaf - but shockingly no golden retriever inspired recipes....hummmm....Discrimination? I'm not a baker and I don't have a ton of time to spend baking bon-bons for the boys - but I'd consider some poodle pasta - as long as it doesn't contain actual poodles.

10) Road Trip LE by Darren Stone (FREE)
OK, so not strictly dog-related, but when you spend as much time in the van as I do MPG is an important metric of overall automotive health. There's a pro version of Road Trip ($1.99), but I have to say that the Light version does everything I wanted it to do - and I tried a dozen of MPG apps before I found one that I liked. The premise is that you enter your odometer reading at each fill-up, along with the total gallons consumed and the price per gallon. RoadTrip does the rest - plotting the data over time. I've long managed all of my gas mileage (first with my Saabs, then with my Saturn and now with my Kia) - but I'd been tracking MPG in a spreadsheet with formulas. This is SO much easier - and no more hunting for missing slips when it's time for data entry!

Bonus App:
11) Audible by Audible Inc.
I confess. I'm totally addicted to my audiobooks.They've become such an enjoyable part of my roadtrips and Audible has made that happen for me. Sure, I could go to the library and sort through their meager selection of current audiobooks, then feed cd after cd into my CD player (the one in my van that I've actually never used) - or I can visit audible and use my monthly credits. No trip to the library to pick-up or drop off, no late fees and no more banged up crappy over-used media that skips and pops because the last borrower's toddler decided to chew on disk 5.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: Sarah's Key by Tatiana DeRosnay

Sarah's Key came highly recommended to me by my friend Katie Trachte. I looked at the audible description and thought "ehhh, not really my thing" - BUT Katie so highly recommended it, I decided to take the gamble on the audible credit...I had intended to listen to it on the Syracuse trip - but ended up getting further into (and finishing) Garth Stein's Raven Stole the Moon instead. So, Raven finished it was time to move onto Sarah's Key.

Sarah Stravinsky is a ten year old jewish girl living in Paris 1942 - to clarify - July 16th, 1942 - the day of the Vélodrome d'hiver Round-up. I wasn't aware of the real-life history of the Vélodrome. This part of the story is shockingly true to life, the additional research I did on the topic was even more gruesome than Ms. De Rosay depicts. French police acting on German orders (sort of) rounded up their own citizens, sending them first to the Vélodrome, then to work camps where the children were separated from their parents and then finally to Auschwitz where, well - we know what happened there.

 In present day (2002) journalist (and ex-patriot) Julia Jarmond and her husband Bertrand are in the process of renovating (and moving into) the apartment of Bertrand's grandmother when Julia is assigned to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vélodrome d'hiver Round-up. She's engrossed in the statistics - the shocking numbers of women and children who were sent to the Vélodrome - the statistic that not a single child from the Vélodrome round up survived. Three thousand children - no survivors. For Julia the article becomes about the children - for a number of reasons - all of them personal.

Julia discovers that her in-law's (The Tezac's) apartment was once occupied by deported jews - a jewish family. The Tezacs moved into the apartment just a few short weeks after the Vélodrome round-up. Julia is determined to find out about the previous owners - what happened to them - and where they are now.

Perhaps an effect of the audiobook - the first few chapters rapidly flipped back and forth between Julia and Sarah (though we don't know her name until mid-way through the novel) - sometimes a bit disjointedly. Nineteen forty-two and then BAM two-thousand-two. I initially thought this would be distracting, but the two stories intertwined - Sarah's story was at times pretty intense - even as told by a 10year old girl. Julia's story was not without conflict - but I found that her path smoothed the overall progression of the novel - suicides in the Vélodrome and then a dinner party with Christophe.

 Once I started "Sarah's Key" I couldn't put it down (or turn it off) - the story of the key is heartbreakingly sad. One little brass key. Just a little brass was haunting. The end of the book becomes a bit trivial - woe is Julia - a bit arrogant and selfish Julia actually - who suddenly became a bit less likable. The story could have been complete without the last few Julia chapters. I've read some other reviews of Sarah's Key - and yes, editing could have been a bit cleaner. The characters could have been more deeply developed. BUT, the story is clever, the history needs to be told (and retold) and in the end it was a satisfying listen - warts and all....I've already downloaded (and started) "A Secret Kept" by Tatiana DeRosnay - hoping it's just as enjoyable.

Polly Stone's narration was superb - her french accent, her vocal characters (Sarah, Julia, Zoey, Bertrand, Edward, Christophe....) were unique and appealing.

Sarah's Key was written by Tatiana De Rosnay, narrated by Polly Stone and pubished by MacMillan Audio. Sarah's Key was released on December 12th, 2008 and has a running time of 9 hours 58 minutes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Advanced Agility - October 28th, 2010

As promised, we're working a FAST sequence tomorrow night. Your assignment is to formulate two plans - two different courses to run - and what (and how many points) you hope to accomplish in your allotted time. Also pay attention to the scoring section, because I'm going to ask everyone to scribe or time for someone else...(Yes, including the math part). We'll do two FAST runs  for everyone and then with remaining time we'll work some obstacle stuff.

**A real-life FAST course would have two more single point jumps and perhaps some additional "dummy" jumps. We just didn't have space for all of the pieces. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Training - October 26th, 2010

The stars aligned this afternoon - We've been doing a lot of conditioning stuff and not so much training for the last few weeks. I'm still sleep-deprived from my late night server work for sure (and it'll be an early night tonight), but I had the time (and the facility) to go train this afternoon after work - so off we went to train! I'm trying to do a couple of things with my sequencing now that we're moved inside for the season - I want to work more spaces and fewer obstacles. I think that Teller and I are feeling (perhaps more than in other years) the tightness of indoor training again and I want to keep the speed and forward handling that we built up while we were training outside all summer...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Preparing to Trial - Part Five (Are we ready?)

How do I know if I'm ready to enter my first trial? The answer is different for every dog and handler team - there are a lot of variables to consider. In my mind, your goal with your first trial (particularly with novice dogs and novice handlers) is to get out there and see what (performance) you have in trial. This will give you an idea of what you need to work on and what a novice course looks students are going to be shocked when they see a novice course (in that WOW, this isn't so bad kinda way).

I think there are four key components to answer as part of this decision:

1) Relationship - 40%
Your dog has to want to be with you to play the game. Calling a dog back to you over and over again isn't fun and it's really hard to qualify with a dog who is zooming around the ring. Momentary lapses (holy cow mom there's ring crew over there!) are different than "hey that smells nice, oh look a dot on the floor, look a butterfly, hey! there's a dog outside the ring that wants to play with me". Your dog ought not to climb on judges or ring crew - he ought not to mark the agility equipment - and he ought not herd you or bite you. If you've got that relationship (aka Bobbie Anderson - Building Blocks for Success) - you're in good shape!

2) Obstacle Performance - 30%
Your dog has to be confident on all of the obstacles and capable of performing them safely. If Fluffy can't do the dogwalk at home, Fluffy isn't going to do it in trial...Perhaps you shouldn't enter Fluffy in Standard but you could enter FAST and JWW (watch for an upcoming post on contingency plans).

3) Your expectations - 20%
In the career of every novice dog you've got to make that first entry. You don't know what you're going to get in trial until you get out there and give it a go. Your goal for your first trial is to get out there - a Q is nice - but it probably shouldn't be your ultimate goal. Remember novice is for novice dogs and handlers - everyone who is running in Excellent was once on the startline in novice with a green dog...We've been there before and we'll (god willing) be there again with our next dog too.  NQ's happen and it's OK!!

4) Zen - 10%
You've got to be ready and confident out there. If you're bouncing off walls with butterflies your dog is going to feel it...Who's that person on the other end of my leash - it looks like my mom - but this woman is CRAZY!!! Peppermints, gum, ginger, visualizations all help - use them! Find your happy place and have fun!

When I brought Murphy out as a novice A dog - I did not have the relationship I should have had with him - and my expectations were WAY high. As a result my first few trials were pretty disappointing.  When Teller made his debut in late March 2009 I went all the way out to Syracuse where (I thought) I could trial anonymously. Turned out it wasn't so anonymous - but it took some of the pressure off me and allowed us to reach some zen :-) Ahhhhh, the things we learn with time and experience!

Teller's Debut at the Onondaga Kennel Club Trials - March 2009
BTW: look at all the space between obstacles in Novice!!!

Let's recap the series so far...
Part One: How to find and enter trials (this "what height will my dog jump in AKC (USDAA/CPE/NADAC/DOCNA/ASCA) agility events?" post is an unintended companion to part one.
Part Two: Packing for an agility trial - what you need for your comfort and your dog's health and safety.
Part Three: Arriving on trial day - what you should expect and what you need to know.
Part Four: A Rules and Regulations Quiz (open book) - And the answers ...
and that brings us to Part Five - How do I know if I'm ready to trial...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twenty-Two Seconds short of CDX....

TWENTY TWO. Seems like a random number so how about another Four-Thirty-Eight. Five minutes minus twenty-two seconds...Twenty-two seconds.

This was to be a weekend off - that was originally my intention coming off a three day agility trial in Syracuse - and not wanting to trial outdoors on the Cape at the end of October (and with 40 degree temperatures I'm glad of that decision - BRRRR). So having the weekend off and a relatively close obedience trial I decided a few weeks ago to enter Teller to try for that last CDX leg. So at the crack of dawn Saturday morning we headed down to Amherst, NH - American K9 Country for the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club Trial.

We arrived and I brought Teller into the building - HOLY EXUBERANCE WOO!  He walked nicely into the building and virtually exploded into the training/trial room. Dude, it's not agility. Teller was so amp'ed to be there - expecting to go flying around an agility course. We worked a little bit - focus on me, yes we're working, etc then I put him back out in the van with Murph.

Our turn - and well his heelwork - not so good I'm afraid. We really haven't trained obedience much at all - a couple of heelwork sessions in the last week, but hadn't worked an entire run-through of the Open routine in a few weeks. Teller missed the first halt - sort of forgot what we were doing - and then tossed in a moving stand on the "slow". We lost 8.5 points on the heeling. Woo got it back together though after those bobble and worked nicely for the rest of the run - crooked sits - a weird left finish when I asked for a right - goofy Woo stuff. Honestly I was pleased - If I go back into the obedience ring in the near future I'll take some time to work finishes - clean things up a bit...So we finished the individual exercises with a qualifying score...I love the tail - nearly constantly wagging - pretty pleased with himself once he got over feeling badly about his mistake on the heeling.

On to the group exercises - three minute out of sight sit - no problem. Five minute out of sight down. Steward says to me - almost immediately after going out of sight "your dog is with the steward". Huh? What? Well, it turns out it wasn't MY golden that was with the steward, MY golden is laying where I left him. WHEW! I'm told that Teller watched the pretty girl golden hanging with the steward - watched her getting fussed over and then resumed napping. At the four minute thirty-eight second mark Teller sat up. I don't know why, he just sat up. He didn't go anywhere, didn't look upset - just sat up. Twenty-two seconds away from his CDX and he sits up.

**If video doesn't play, double click on unavailable message to view directly on YouTube.**

I was initially disappointed - I think it was a silly way to lose a Q. But the more I thought about it - the more I had to give credit where credit was due - and fault where fault belonged...We haven't worked stays in a line of dogs in a while - he's always been "Mr. Dependable" in groups - but it's my omission. I've got to find some other obedience people in the area to work stays with - my problem is that the majority of obedience people in the area are pretty draconian in their training styles - in my opinion bordering on abuse - and I just don't have the stomach to be around that kind of vibe and that kind of training. It's not how I work my dogs and it stresses me out....Being stressed out about how other people are training shorts my own dog - it's not fair to him.

He does out of sight stays at home (which we all know doesn't really count) every day while I make dinner. Perhaps I need to start pulling him into my classes from time to time and working out of sights while folks are walking the sequence - or as everyone is coming into the building for class - with a little bit of planning it'd be relatively easy to do that - even if he wasn't in a line of other dogs. For the near future we're back to playing agility!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Four Jumps - Backyard sequences Part Fourteen

Some more weave entries today...Try to get some speed into the weaves!

A - That's about a 220 degree from 1-2. Try wrapping #4 to both the left and right. Wrapping to the left gives you a bear of an entry - but wrapping to the right gives you a straight-on weave entry - which is hard for some dogs.
B - Mirror image of A - same as above.

C - That tough 90 degree entry we've been seeing so much of! Really hard for fast dogs. Try a front cross after the #2 weaves and a front cross after #4.

D - Mirror of C - Same as above.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Four Jumps - Backyard sequences Part Thirteen

Let's work weave entries!!!
A) I've been seeing a lot of these 90 degree weave entries - particularly the dark circle entry. Here's a pretty straight forward warm-up. OK to work 6 poles if that's what you have available (or what you feel like hauling to the park).

B) For sequence B your dog should have a bit more momentum. Front cross to get from 1-2, then push the weave entry a little. Let your dog find the entry.

C) Note that the number 1 jumps move a little here - not a lot - but enough to really change the angle of the weave entries...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Advanced Agility - October 21st, 2010

Lots of time off for you guys - hope everyone is ready to get back to it! Here's the plan for tonight's class.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preparing to Trial - Part Four (Quiz Answers)

OK kids, pencils DOWN!! A couple of days ago I published a quiz in the "preparing to trial" series. Here are the answers! Give yourselves 5 points for every correct answer - In the event that you needed an incentive there's a prize for each qualifying score! Comment below with your score!

1) What are the three five point deductions in AKC agility?
      a) Refusal, Wrong Course and Table

2) How many points do you need to qualify on a novice run? What is a perfect score?
      a) 85 to qualify; 100 is a perfect score.

3) If standard course time (SCT) on a Novice Standard course is 72 seconds and you finish with a time of 75.99 how many points have you lost for time?
     a) 3 points. In novice OT is one point per full second. 

4) Your dog measures 15.75 inches at the shoulder. What height will he jump in regular classes? In preferred?
     a)  16" regular classes; 12" preferred

5) How many novice standard legs do you need to earn your NAJ title?
     a)  Trick question - You need three Novice Standard legs for an NA; Three Novice JWW legs for NAJ. 
Teller's GRCA Specialty Loot - 2008

6) In novice standard how many refusals can you have on a qualifying run?
     a) You may have two refusals in Novice Standard.  

7) If your dog jumps 24" (regular classes), what height should the tire be set?
     a) 20" - Tires are set one jump height lower than regular jump height.   

8) My dog runs in the 12" jump height. What height table should I be training for competition?
     a) Your dog will see an 8" table. Dogs will never see a table higher than their jump height. 

9) How many wrong courses can you have (and still qualify) in Novice JWW? Open JWW? Excellent JWW?
     a) You cannot have a wrong course (and still qualify) in any level of JWW.  

10) My dog knocked a bar. Did I qualify?
     a) Nope, sorry. 

11) How many table faults am I allowed on a qualifying Novice run?
     a) You can have two table faults and still qualify in Novice.  
Murphy's NADAC loot - 2006

12) My dog jumps 16". What is the correct width for his broad jump?
     a) 32" - Broad jumps are set at 2x jump height.  **Corrected - Thanks Abby!

13) Math....My novice standard course is 154 yards. I have a 24" dog (named Fluffy). What is my SCT?
      a) 75 seconds - SCT for a novice 24" dog is 2.2 YPS (yards per second), plus 5 seconds for the pause table.

14) Two part question: The judge just raised both of his hands - open palms. I'm pretty sure he's not "raising the roof".  i) What does that mean? ii) Why might he have done that - at least five possibilities please.
      a) Two hands is a Fault (failure). Failures include: knocked a bar, failure to complete course, missed contact, fouling the ring, biting the judge, biting the handler, touching the dog, your dog leaving the ring without his leash attached to him, swearing, training in the ring, running with tags on your dog's collar... 

15) I've never titled a dog in AKC agility. I'm filling out my entry for regular classes. What should I enter Novice A or Novice B?
       a) You can enter Novice A. Enjoy it - you only get to play in Novice A once :-) 

16) How old does my dog have to be before she's eligible for a permanent height card?
Teller CD and RN - 2008
       a) Two years old. However, any dog that measures over 22" on or after their 15 month birthday can request a permanent height card by waiving their right to a challenge measurement. (Fluffy is unlikely to shrink).  

17) What percentage of jumps must be winged?
      a) At least 50% of jumps must be winged.  

18) In novice, how many jumps can be single bars?
      a) Pre-September 2010 the answer was none - all jumps in novice must be double bars.  Post-September 2010 there can be single bar jumps - typically in Novice this is one single bar.

19) I just finished my first ever novice standard run - my time was 72.02 seconds (SCT was 75), I had one refusal, one table fault and one wrong course. Did I qualify? What's my score?
      a) Yes! You qualified with a score of 85.  

20) I just finished an open standard course. My time was 65.98 seconds (SCT was 66), I had one refusal, one table fault and one wrong course. Did I qualify? What's my score?
       a) No. In open you can have two five point deductions (R/T, R/W or W/T) - but you cannot have all three. Your score was technically an 85 - but it was not a qualifying run. 

Bonus Question: When does the January 2011 ACNH trial open?
       a) November 9th, 2010

Hope you had fun with this quiz!!! Post your score in the comments section below!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein

A few weeks ago Audible sent me a teaser email announcing the audible release of Garth Stein's first two books (prior to "The Art of Racing in the Rain"). I immedieatly downloaded "How Evan Broke His Head (and other Secrets)" and loved it - finding it every bit as enjoyable as The Art of Racing in the Rain. So now onto "Raven Stole the Moon" (originally published in hardcover by Atria -  April 1st, 1998).

I initially started Raven Stole the Moon on my way home from TMAC - right after (on the same trip) finishing "How Evan Broke his Head". My next few listening sessions were somewhat fragmented, leaving me about 90 minutes into the audiobook without having really gotten into the story. I almost moved onto another book - I downloaded two more titles to my Garmin in preparation for my trip to Syracuse but for some reason, when I got into the van I decided to give Raven Stole the Moon one more try....and by the time I hit the interstate I was hooked.
I'm impressed how different Garth Stein's books are - all three are distinctly original works. Each new plot element and character are unique. Evan is not Enzo; Bobby is not Zoe; etc. 

I think what threw me in those initial 90 minutes were the context shifts and my breaks in listening. Contextually the story moves from present day, two years ago, present day, 20 years ago - it really required a bit of concentration (and continuity) to get to the part of the novel where the characters had been explained sufficiently so their stories could begin.

Jenna and Robert lost their son in a tragic accident while on vacation in Alaska; Jenna is one-quarter Clinket (Alaskan tribe) - her grandmother lived and died just a few miles away from the place where Bobby died. Jenna in Seattle is spiritually called to Rangal Alaska - her grandmother's abandoned home and the spirits that live there. We are introduced to Raven - Raven the son of "god" (sort of) born from immaculate conception - a magical spirit who steals the moon and the starts. His mother is saved by otters; to repay them he grants the otter some of his powers - creating the kushtaka. Otters able to transform into any shape they desire - assuming human form - but they can't change their eyes or their teeth - that's how you know.

From Wiki:
Kushtaka are mythical creatures found in the stories of the Tlingit and Tsimshian Indians of Southeastern Alaska. Loosely translated, kushtaka means, "land otter man". They are similar to the Nat'ina of the Dan'aina Indians of South Central Alaska, and the Urayuli of the Eskimos in Northern Alaska. Physically, kushtaka are shape-shifters capable of assuming either human form or the form of an otter. In some accounts, a kushtaka is able to assume the form of any species of otter; in others, only one. Accounts of their behaviour seem to conflict with one another. In some stories, kushtaka are cruel creatures who take delight in tricking poor Tlingit sailors to their deaths. In others, they are friendly and helpful, frequently saving the lost from death by freezing. In many stories, the kushtaka save the lost individual by distracting them with curiously otter-like illusions of their family and friends as they transform their subject into a fellow kushtaka, thus allowing him to survive in the cold. Naturally, this is counted a mixed blessing. However, kushtaka legends are not always pleasant. In some legends it is said the kushtaka will imitate the cries of a baby or the screams of a woman to lure victims to the river. Once there, the kushtaka either kills the person and tears them to shreds or will turn them into another kushtaka.
Legends have it kushtaka can be warded off through copper, urine, and in some stories fire. Since the kushtaka mainly preys on small children, it has been thought by some that it was used by Tlingit mothers to keep their children from wandering close to the ocean by themselves.

Jenna in Alaska, the dog that saves her in the woods, Eddie a fisherman sidelined by a traumatic injury, the jealous husband who hires an investigator to find Jenna. David Livingstone a shamen who has experienced abduction by kushtaka. Have I piqued your interest yet? The story is delightful - it was really hard to pull into the driveway after my 5 hour drive from Syracuse and leave the last 45 minutes of Raven Stole the Moon for another trip...REALLY hard. Now part of me is a little sad...I've now caught up on all of Mr. Stein's works and I want more!

"Raven Stole the Moon" was written by Garth Stein and published in hardcover April 1st, 1998.  "Raven Stole the Moon" was published in audio format by Audible, Inc.and was released on September 21st, 2010. The audiobook was narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck. "Raven Stole the Moon" is unabridged and has a run-time of 12 hours and 56 minutes.

Waterfall shots...

On my way out to Syracuse on Thursday I had to stop in at the office for my flu shot - since I had both boys and my camera with me I decided to stop at the waterfalls/rock ledge to see if the water was flowing - it WAS! Not the best lighting (or grooming on Teller) but I got a couple of nice shots. Oh, after Murphy's unintended swim and galloping tour on Saturday he didn't get to have a portrait session - too many people wandering around that he might choose to impress with leaps into the pond and the accompanying wet dog zoomies...

October 14th: Teller at the waterfalls

October 14th: Teller at the waterfalls

October 14th: Teller at the waterfalls

Monday, October 18, 2010

Syracuse Part Three: The Return Trip

I decided to play a bit of a tourist again this afternoon on my way's about a few pictures from our return trip.
October 17th: A shadow shot inspired by my friend Jess' work...except Jess
usually shoots reflections of her car in mirror windows...This is my "Jess shot
'Vermonta' Style"

October 17th, 2010 - Charlotte, VT

October 17th - Charlotte, VT

October 17th - Ferrisburg, VT

October 17th - Addison, VT

October 17th - Bridport, VT - view of Adirondacks

October 17th - Fairhaven, VT

October 17th - Fairhaven, VT

October 17th - Fairhaven, VT

October 17th - Whitehall, NY
The name of this place always cracks me up!

October 17th - Fort Ann, NY
October 17th - Home.
TIRED Doggies...Bookends.

Syracuse Part Two: The Trip

Syracuse is about a five hour drive - 4.5 without a stop and without any traffic. Thursday morning was a bit nutty with a private lesson to teach first thing and then off to the office for my flu shot before we could hit the road. Once on the road it was a gorgeous fall afternoon so I decided to take the scenic route - taking the ferry to Crown Point (where the old bridge used to be - and the NEW bridge is under construction), through Ticonderoga and into Schroon Lake before picking up the Northway (I87) down to Saratoga/rt 29 through Fonda and onto I90.

October 14th, 2010: On the Crown Point Ferry - looking at Crown Point (where the bridge
used to be)

October 14th, 2010:  Crown Point State Park (NY)

October 14th, 2010: Chimney Point State Park (VT)

October 14th, 2010:  Looking towards the shore of Addison County (VT)

October 14th, 2010: The village of Crown Point

October 14th, 2010: Remnants of the Revolutionary War Fort at Crown Point (NY)

October 14th, 2010:  View from the Ticonderoga McDonalds - by this point all of us needed
a potty-break. Absolutely stunning past-peak color.  

October 14th, 2010:  Eagle Lake (NY)

October 14th, 2010:  Eagle Lake (NY)

October 14th, 2010: Paradox Lake (NY)
October 14th, 2010: Schroon Lake (NY

October 14th, 2010:  Saratoga Springs - Health, History and Horses.

October 14th, 2010: Alma Mater. Parents weekend. Lots of change - lots the same.

October 14th, 2010:  MECCA. Best. Sandwiches. Ever. LOVE Roma's