Friday, January 29, 2010

Breaking down agility venues - OR, Dawn's attempt to Get A Grip

I know I haven't been posting much content lately. I wish I could say it's because I've been too busy doing mucho-exciting things, but seriously? It's Maine. It's winter. There's just not a whole lot going on, dogwise. Me enthusing dramatically about Elli's agility training or obsessing over Clue's puppies isn't real exciting for y'all to read about.

And MAN am I obsessing! Like --

uh, Joanna, if you're reading this, STOP. I'm not a crazy, creepy, psycho-stalker lady. Really. But I do play one on my blog!

So, you know you're obsessed when:
  • You have a folder of pictures labelled "Clue-Draco" puppies, on both your home and work computers, with copies of every. single. photo that Joanna has posted;
  • You have looked at all of the photos in said folder (again, both at home and at work) approximately 3,254,586 times each;
  • You've printed said photos out in various sizes, rotating them 2.4 degrees to the left or 5.3 degrees to the right, thinking you just might get a better idea of that puppy's shoulder angle or the length of that one's hocks - 'cuz, you know, you can tell SO much when they're a day old;
  • You've already contacted your Puppy K instructor to see when they will start an April session and to get your name on the list;
  • You've mentally rearranged the car 9 times to figure out how to accomodate both adult dogs and the puppy's crate for the trip to Nationals;
  • You have your day planner marked in weekly increments up to twelve weeks, and then monthly increments up to six months, with the 6-month date circled in red with big letters that say "Can start entering shows!";
  • You have debated the merits of this call name versus that call name with friends and family, and have taken an informal opinion poll;
  • You've moved furniture around the bedroom so the baby's crate can go there;
  • You've picked out a show lead and collar to compliment the blue merle coloring;
  • You make the rounds on Twitter, Facebook, and blogland every 10-15 minutes to see if there are any updates posted;
  • And, your inner monologue sounds roughly like, "blah blah puppy blah puppy puppy blah blah puppy puppy puppy and blah blah and PUPPPPPPPY!"

Freakin' A, Dawn! Get a damn grip, fer cryin' out loud!!

yeah. *ahem* Like I said, not such an exciting read.

But in between the quarter-hour cruises through social networking sites, I've been looking at agility regs for the various venues -- AKC, UKC, CPE, NADAC and USDAA -- and comparing them. Which actually makes enthusing dramatically over Elli's training progress A Good Thing, because the thought of not being able to compete with her, what with the being in prison and all, is the only thing keeping me from camping in a little tent on Joanna's front lawn.

So next week, I'll be devoting each day to a discussion of one of the venues. I know that there are a lot of you who already compete in one or more of these, so this will probably all be old hat to you. But hopefully some of you who are just getting into agility and looking ahead to competition will find it helpful. I know I'M learning a lot!

Monday's venue: CPE

gotta go check Facebook and Twitter now 'kay bye

Six Words

I posted these as a comment on Taryn's blog, but thought I'd move them here too.

Ian: Discovered by accident. Heartdog. Fate smiled.

Elli: Wild Child. Everyday laughs. Forward momentum.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Per Joanna: Surgery went beautifully - yay!! Nine healthy babies: 4 boys 5 girls, all well-marked and healthy. YAY!! All the blues are boys. Not so yay.

But still, 9 healthy, well-marked babies, and Clue is a trooper. Awesome.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

T minus 1 week!

...till Clue's puppies arrive. :-D Sending lots of positive vibes toward New Hampshire.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Elli had another great agility class Monday night. She picked up the front cross immediately, and was sequencing 12 obstacles. She didn't fall for the tire trap coming out of the tunnel, instead picking me up for the front cross and reversal of direction. We will be starting either the dog walk or the teeter next week, so I'll be interested to see how she deals with new objects that have some height to them, and/or that move. I'm delighted at how responsive she is to my body language. I'm less delighted with the fact that my body language has a pronounced speech impediment.

However, I didn't actually run over the jump; I just came perilously close to it, thereby pitching Elli wide around the obstacle. Poor dog. I totally need to get her one of those T-shirts with the pointing arrow that says, "I'm with Stupid." Thom swears he'll make an agility handler of me, though, and he's cracking the whip hard, which is good. I need it.

I am so pleasantly surprised at Elli's work ethic. She really WANTS to work, and has great focus on course. Because of this, I've decided that, come spring, I'm going to bite the bullet and sign her up for private herding lessons. I'm very fortunate in that there's an experienced herding instructor with a farm in the next town over from me. It's $60 an hour for a private lesson, so I may have to either split the lesson with someone else or only go on a bi-weekly basis, but I want to see what Elli can do with livestock. She loves having a job, and this will give her one more outlet for her energy. She'll definitely need her T-shirt then; I have, like, less than zero knowledge of livestock. What I know about sheep can be summed up thusly: they have four feet, and they make sweaters. Sweaters that I can't wash, because they'll shrink. Why is that? The sheep don't the sheep shrink when they get wet, do they? Do you have to dry-clean sheep?

It has been really interesting to see how different her personality is from Ian's. I mean, I realize that they're all individuals, but it's still intriguing to me. Ian's idea of the perfect life would be to lie on the couch with his head in my lap, sleep at my feet while I'm on the computer, snuggle on the bed at night, and intersperse all that with a walk or some fetching of the ball out in the yard. When we were working in agility, it was a looooooooong time before he didn't get the zoomies in the middle of the course and run around doing his own thing. He'll do obedience because it's time he gets to spend with me and because he wants to please me, but he will never have straight sits or fronts, and it is always going to be a toss-up as to whether he's going to play clown in the ring. But he is possibly the sweetest dog who ever lived, and is tuned into my emotions to a scary degree.

Elli is NOT cuddly. She'll put up with me loving on her, but she has this little martyred expression the whole time, and she can't get away fast enough. When she gets up on the bed, it's at the foot, and no amount of persuasion will induce her to come up for a snuggle. Half the time she'll lie down in the kitchen or the bedroom rather than stay in the room with me, let alone at my feet. I spent at least the first six months of her life convinced that she hated me. But she LOVES to work. She has terrific focus, and is already a much sharper heeler than Ian will ever be. She works with this big grin on her face and her eyes alight, not because she's humoring me but because she wants to do it, and do it right. Working with Ian is rewarding because he's my little heart dog. Working with Elli is FUN, and I am going to learn so much from her.

I can't wait to see what kind of "fursonality" the next little furkid will have. Eight more days till Clue's puppies arrive!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

With Some Reservations

...for Nationals! I hadn't seen anything on the CWCCA website to indicate that the hotel was taking reservations yet or that there was a group-rate, but I called, and they were, and they do. Soooooo, I've got a room for April 25-May 2.

I booked a non-smoking room with two double beds, so if there is anyone out there in Cardidom who is looking for a room/roommate, let me know.

I'm not 100% sure who I'm taking for dogs yet. I will most likely take Elli with me to get some Opinions on: a) whether I should breed her; and b) if so, to whom I should breed her. I may enter her in Novice Obedience if she's ready, and/or agility. I may or may not take Ian to enter in Obedience. That will likely depend on whether I have a new little blue bundle of joy tagging along. (fingers, toes, etc. crossed).

This will be my first National, and I'm so psyched! I can't wait to meet everyone in person.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I am so psyched!

I've been saying almost since she came home that Elli was going to be a good agility dog. She is unbelievably fast and agile in the yard, can turn on a dime, and never hesitates to jump up on things that she probably shouldn't. However, physical ability alone doesn't translate into being competitive on course, where they not only have to perform the obstacles and run fast, but also have to follow handler cues and be under control at all times. So though I know the raw talent is there, I went into Elli's first agility class Monday night without putting huge expectations on the experience.

And? Elli frigging ROCKED IT HARDCORE!!!!

Oh my God, you guys, I seriously feel guilty that she's with ME and not a more serious agility competitor. I mean, my goal with agility is not to get a MACH or to compete at the National Invitationals. It's more like: Don't trip over my dog. Don't trip over an obstacle or fall on it and dismantle it. Don't run into a post and give myself a concussion because I'm not watching where I'm going because I'm watching that dog that I don't want to trip over... Y'all, I am so NOT coordinated. Like, at all.

But first time out, even with all the new dogs in the room to distract Little Miss "PLAYWITHMENOW!!!", and still she focused on me, kept checking in, and completely followed my body cues, even when I gave her the wrong ones, which: good for her for paying attention, and bad on me for doing it wrong.

So my new goals for 2010: Learn to be more aware of my body and what it's doing, even while running a course. Be consistent in what I call the obstacles so I'm not creating confusion that doesn't need to be there. Keep losing weight, and do more cardio so I'm not puffing like a stevedore at the end of the course. Introduce Elli to ALL of the equipment, and work on the darned weave poles until she can do them in her sleep.

And, because I cannot stress this enough: Don't trip over my dog.