Sunday, September 10, 2006

Still more Qs for Gomey (and Lucy)!

Give Mr. Gomez a giant dog treat and he's likely to swallow it whole. (See this photo).

Anyway, I'm exhausted from day 2 of agility--but exhilarated! Lucy won first place in the Steeplechase. Strange, because she came in at the bottom of the pack of qualifiers yesterday. But we just had a really nice run. She still wasn't going as fast as she might have when it's not blazingly hot outside, but other than an inelegant front cross by me at one point, the run was as close to flawless as one can ever hope for in agility. After it was done I thought "That's why I do this sport!"

But Gomey had some glory, too. After a debacle of a gamblers run, in which he ran amok completely, he went on to have a really beautiful qualifying jumpers run. It was as if a little lightbulb went on in his head, and he realized that if he kept an eye on me he would always know what I wanted him to do next. He stayed with me, and except for missing the tire on the first pass (we really need to work more on that obstacle), he took everything perfectly.

Then we had another success on the Snooker course. I was worried because the number 7 obstacle was weaves plus a jump, and we don't weave yet, so we would have to skip it. The number 6 obstacle was the teeter, and even though we practiced the heck out of it all week, I didn't want to ask him to take it more than once just in case it spooked him (he still has trouble distinguishing between the dogwalk and the teeter at first, even though I call them different things on his approach). I did some calculations and I realized that by taking the number five twice and the four once in the opening, and assuming that he would successfuly complete the teeter in the closing, we could just reach 37 points, the minimum required for a Q. It also made for an opening with a bit of "flow," which is often hard to get in a Snooker opening (but with a "green" dog you really need it). The hitch is that the number 5 obstacle was a tire, which Gomey still tries to skip a lot. But it seemed to be the best plan of any, so we went for it. Sure enough, he ran right by the tire the first time (he looked like he had his sights set on the teeter), but fortunately it was bi-directional in the opening so I just turned him around and he took it. Then everything else sort of fell into place ... I lagged a bit in one spot and he started barking at me ("Dammit woman, I need some direction here! Hel-lo!"), but we made it through, with time to spare. I just ran him past the weaves and to the finish. That was another "This is why I do it" moment.

I got that snooker run on video and I'll upload it sometime this week (when I'm less exhausted!)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Agility: Gomey's first Q

Mr. Gomez got his first agility Q today in Snooker. It was actually a very hideous but highly amusing run, in which Gomey ran in almost every direction except where I was heading, and lamentably I didn't get it on video. The important thing is that he eventually took enough obstacles in the correct order to get 42 points before time ran out (putting us in third place). He did a lovely Gamblers run but we missed our Q by a fraction of a second because he ran out past the last jump and I had to bring him back around. We also ran a jumpers course in which he took an off-course tunnel. It was pretty funny--I got that one on video and I'll upload it later.

I only entered Lucy in Grand Prix and Steeplechase (this is Gomey's trial!), and she qualified in Steeplechase, so we'll run the final tomorrow. We missed our Grand Prix Q by .16--of the seven faults allowed, 5 were eaten by a popped weave pole, and two more (plus .16!) by the time it took me to pull her back and get her through the last pole. I also got that run on video and will post later.

I'm exhausted, and we do it again tomorrow ...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Coalition to Unchain Dogs Update

I'm a little tardy in reporting this (too much agility on my mind!), but the Coalition to Unchain Dogs now has it's own blog at So if you're a local and want to participate, or if you're somewhere else and want to keep tabs on our progress here in NC, that's the place to go for info. I'm signed up as a contributor to the blog, although I've yet to make a post.

The next coalition meeting will be Wednesday, September 27th at 7:00 PM at Carrboro Town Hall, 301 East Main Street Room 110, Carrboro, NC.

Now back to thinking about agility!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Our agility weekend: Could've been better ...

I'm a bit late in posting the account of our Labor Day USDAA agility weekend, partially because I was a bit worn out yesterday and partially because it was a tiny bit depressing. (Oh, and by the way, I didn't get into the Stuart Mah seminar--it filled too quickly! So I won't be reporting on that. maybe it's a good thing because Lucy needed some rest yesterday.) Well, depressing is a strong word--we did end up with three Qs, one of which brought us our Advanced Standard title. And I did have fun--mostly. There were just a few things that made it a less-than-wonderful event for us ... more and a few videos after the jump.
Things started out well enough on Saturday--Lucy was reasonably fast in the morning for our first two Performance Versatility Pairs events (Jumpers and Gamblers--we had small problems on both courses). Then as we were waiting to go into the ring for the third (Standard), something apparently stung Lucy on the foot. I didn't see what it was, but she began licking her foot and wouldn't put it down to walk. It very quickly started swelling up. I didn't have any Benadryl on me so we decided the best thing was just to take her to the vet. They shot her up with Benadryl and some ketoprophen for the pain and sent us on our way. Needless to say, Lucy's agility day was over and she went home with her dad to relax while I went back, thoroughly depressed, to finish my volunteer duties at the trial (it was at my home facilty and I'm a die-hard). The rest of the day I helped out and watched everyone else having lots of fun with their dogs (my PVP partner got to run the pairs even with an unpaired dog) while my little dog snoozed off the Benedryl and (I hoped!) recovered from her sting.

When I got home the swelling in her paw was almost gone and she wasn't favoring it any more, and although she was subdued she seemed to be comfortable and content. On Sunday morning the swelling was gone and she showed no signs of any trouble, but I gave her a Benedryl and a Rimadyl just in case. I figured I'd take her with and walk her around before making a decision whether she should run or not. I had to be at the trial all day regardless because I was the chief builder for one of the rings, and even if Lucy didn't run her favorite thing is to be with me. Her first event wasn't slated to come up until halfway through the day anyway, so I'd be able to observe her throughout the morning before deciding.

She continued to seem fine so I went for it. Our first event was Gamblers, and other than being slow and a little hesitant (understandable considering she was on Benedryl and had a very stressful day the day before!), we did pretty well. We qualified ... although there was a very iffy A-frame contact in there:

She continued being slow the rest of the day ... and then on Monday as well. Usually if we run clean we qualify, but it was a real struggle on Sunday. We qualified in Advanced Standard by a tiny fraction of a second but missed our Masters Jumpers Q by .04. We went a second and a half over time in Steeplechase (but for some arcane reason having to do with the number of dogs in the 12- and 16-inch classes we were allowed to run in the Steeplechase finals on Monday):

Monday morning Lucy had a little pep in her step but she still was slower than normal. I often choose rear crosses because I usually can't make it to a front cross in time, but all day long I flubbed the rear crosses because I had a hard time keeping her ahead of me (Rule number one of rear crosses: the dog has to be in front of you if you want to cross behind it!). She was, however, fast enough in Masters Jumpers to zip off and take an off-course obstacle before I could call her off! In the Steeplechase finals she did something she had never done before: stopped in her tracks partway through the first set of weaves. I couldn't get her going again, so I said "Let's just go have fun!" and took off toward the next obstacle. She got enthusiastic again and we did a nice job on the rest of the course, including the second set of weaves, which she ran like a pro. Then we had had a reasonably nice, but very slow, Standard run (Note the flubbed rear cross after the weaves--I shoul have realized she wouldn't be ahead of me and done a front cross instead):

In the Grand Prix she once again stopped cold in the middle of the weaves--and I honestly have no clue why. After several seconds of trying to get her started again I realized that we had just eaten any time cushion we may have had and weren't likely to Q at that point. So instead of allowing Lucy to get any more de-motivated, I said "let's go!" and ran to the next obstacle. We managed to work up a decent bit of speed and i was feeling great, when Lucy again raced off and took an off-course jump. D'oh! Still, I felt like I had successfully motivated her and that she had some fun.

Our last course was Snooker. I decided that I'd find the quickest path through the opening because otherwise we had no chance of making it timewise. It all went smoothly--but slowly--until we finished the opening. Then in a complete brain meltdown, I led her straight to the #3 obstacle to start the closing ... I completely forgot #2! It was a crappy feeling to end the day with.

But, we'll have another chance for some more fun this weekend at another trial in Youngsville, NC. I've only entered Lucy in Steeplechase and grand Prix, though, because it's going to be Mr. Gomez's big weekend. I've entered him in Performance I Jumpers, Gamblers and Snooker--pretty much everything we could possibly Q in without having to do weaves. (It's very unlikely that a judge will put weaves in a Starters/P1 gamble, and the only time I saw weaves in Starters/P1 Snooker, they were always the #7 obstacle and if you plan your opening right you can Q without getting that one). I'm hoping that next Monday I'll be writing a post about how much fun it all was!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Agility Nerd does it again!

Steve, aka Agility Nerd has come up with another techie tool for agility fanatics: a tool that lets you search Clean Run Magazine's article index.

Meanwhile, I'll be back later to post about my three-day agility weekend, once I'm a bit less catatonic.