Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Did I Jog Yesterday?

Don't know.  Can't remember what I did in class yesterday evening!  Even though I reviewed the courses in my head on the way home, and I could (mostly) remember what Riff did....what - exactly - did I do??  All I know for sure is that during the last exercise I did not handle the closing sequence the same way I walked it.  But why?  What happened?  Damned if I know. 

I do know that Riff crashed into the broad jump at one point, early on.  Y-ouch!  Our instructor said I had a "bobble" while I was trying to move up alongside him and that Riff tried to figure out what that meant while he was over the jump.  I remembered a moment of pain, and think I might have tripped-a-little, or stutter-stepped, or did I make a noise?  Was I trying to run before my leg is ready?

MUST MOVE SMOOTHLY and STEADILY.  Even though Riff always leaves me "in the dust" early, every sequence.  (I tend to get nervous about that and try really hard to catch up.)  Maybe I need to set my video camera up on a tripod again.  Be religious about video-taping.  (I don't like to ask classmates to tape me, because they seem to be having so much fun just watching, or visiting each other, and they don't need the added "work." I love my entertaining and fun-loving classmates!)

So - back to the tripod!  That way I can at least try to catch a glimpse of what the heck I actually did.  As opposed to what I'd planned to do.  Or what I thought I did.

Maybe Riff needs to put up a Wanted poster:

Someone with agility experience, good eyes, and a functioning short-term memory. 
Tactful communication skills a plus.  

Sometimes you need to be a bit picky about your Training Partnerships....especially if you're floating on the brink of agility depression, and are wondering what the heckipoo you're doing out there.

When I first started playing this game I needed to constantly remind myself to look at both the dog and the handler.  For a couple of years, my eyes were glued to the dogs - such athletic beauties - and I barely noticed what the handlers were doing.  And then - forehead slap - DUH!  I realized I can learn from those handlers....!

As far as I can tell, most people rely on video....and, of course, their helpful instructors.   It would be so cool to be able to afford privates or semi-privates on a regular basis.  Then my instructor and I could communicate more fully.  In a group setting, it just doesn't happen.  Everyone in class needs their course time...! 

And when you sign up for field rental, it's just you and your dog....

  ....which is heavenly.

But - and I need to remember this - if I want to know what really happened,
and learn from it,
I need to bring the video camera....!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FCI Agility World Championships...

....coming up!  The AKC USA Team is on its way to France.  Woohoo!

Riff says Bon Voyage! and wishes you Good Energy and Much Joy....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Romping at the Fairgrounds

Riff found Aunty Channan and Icon right away.
Riff invited Icon to play....
....before Channan decided to work with Riff on his startline stay.  (She might show him again sometime.)
Coach Icon kept a close eye on the lesson. 
Riff did pretty well!

Not to be outdone, Rampage sped over, as beautiful and charming as he could possibly be.

Hi, Rampage!
Hi, Tammy and Tammy's dogs! (Icon kept an eye on things...)
Hi, Aunty Kathy!

Ooooh...Aunty Kathy let Riff kiss her!
Riff and Rampage played...
....while Charter checked out the camera...
....and posed...
...and posed for a close-up, too.  Spree watched.

Rampage and Riff posed too. 
(Somebody should remind the camera lady to wear her glasses, and be careful about the background.)
Riff was happy.

Icon nuzzled Riff as if to say, "You're alright, kid..."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

SoCo Book Festival

Today I was an actor, for the first time in quite a while.  Three of my actor friends and I did a staged reading from the book "Juicy Tomatoes," by Susan Swartz, at the Sonoma County Book Festival. 

We were the original cast in the play version of this book, which premiered at the Actors' Theatre of Sonoma County some ten years ago or so.  After the production closed we read it on the radio, then went on a little road trip with the play.  Those were the days.....

Out of the blue (it seemed to me, having been immersed in the Dog Agility World these last few years) we were called in to read bits of the play at the Book Festival.  Fun! 

A few photos:
4th Street was closed so booksellers could set up booths.

Booths were also in the Courthouse Square.
One of my favorite booth signs.

Susan Swartz is the author of the book "Juicy Tomatoes"
Susan talked to us right before the reading.

Juicy Tomatoes onstage.
This lady wanted to chat a bit after the reading.  She wanted to let us know that we did a "Great job." 
She said she was very proud of being 96 years old, and that
more people should speak out against ageism in this country. 
She was terrific, and I told her so.

This was one of my favorite audience members.  She only paused for a moment, and then trotted off...
but I thought she was cute.  In a Pekinese sort of way...

After the reading we all went to LaRosa and had a beer.  It was a wonderful visit with the old "Juicy Tomatoes"...!

But I'm still not in theatre anymore. 



Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo Sequence - Weaving

Riff and I had a lovely time at the practice field this morning!  Jeff took photos of Riff while we worked on weave entries.  Riff has pretty weaves, once he's in.  He has good lateral distance, too....but he will miss entries when I'm ahead of him.  Somehow he trained me to pause my forward motion and stay behind him while he enters the weaves....   OOPS. 

So today we worked a two-obstacle exercise.  Jump - weave.  I put him in a stay behind the jump - or sent him to it - and worked on getting good weave entries with me ahead of him.  I did a lead-out to one pole, two poles, then on to more than half-way down the line ahead of him.  I practiced moving down the line, too.  But I don't want him to weave so much that he gets sore, or tired of it, so I only worked one side for a few minutes today.  He missed only one entry!  Good boy.  We'll keep working weave entries during the coming month, from both sides, until I can consistently be at the end the line and/or be quickly moving down the line ahead of him. 

Our goal: Enter the weaves correctly, from anywhere, even if your handler is ahead of you!

Here is one of his runs.  12 photos for 12 poles....comin' right at'cha! 

We also worked on serps...and then played with a short line of jumps.  I'll save those photos for another day...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zeal Hunting

"Zeal" was on my Old List of Dog Names.    Zeal is a cool word, veering as it does into the realm of 'unbridled enthusiasm.' (You might think 'zealot - religious fanatic,' but that's not what I had in mind, unless agility is a religion.  Wait, is agility a religion?)     You could call your dog "Z" for short.  Cool.

But I started a New List of Dog Names, some weeks ago, and Zeal dropped off. 

New List:
Music (Muse)
Easy (E)
Secret (See)
Dr.Who (Doc)
Mana (Hawaiian word.  Man?)
Gee-Gee (for global geophysical event)
Lituya (that wild Alaskan bay.  Lit?)
Rapid (Rap)
Model (Mod)
Red Alert
Skiffle (Ski or Skiff)

Since I carry an iPhone, I can throw a word onto the dog names list whenever I feel like it.  Like when I'm out at a restaurant with friends, and someone starts talking about how many earthquakes we've had around the Pacific Ring of Fire lately.  My friends don't really notice if I pull my phone out and type a word or two.  It takes three seconds. (Yeah, they notice, and yeah, they give me grief.  I hold up my phone and say "dog name" and they shake their heads, some with obvious sympathy.)  Or - and this is more polite - like when I'm watching a baseball game and Wilson comes in to pitch the 9th inning and it becomes way too stressful and I have to look at my iPhone instead of at the game, in order not to have heart attack.  Everyone understands healthy living. 

My New List has a few baseball terms on it.  Of course having a dog name list is a bit silly, because it's going to be a long, long time before I get another dog.  Or so my husband thinks.  Anyway.

Today I'm realizing that I need to put ZEAL back on the list, because I've been having too many low energy days, when it comes to agility training.  Blah.  What happened to my agility enthusiasm?  I need to find it.   FIND IT! 

(When I say that to my dogs they run around with the speed of light, looking for toys....)

On October 10th it will have been six months since my back was hurt and my leg went out.  I really did expect to be running by now, but I'm not.  Happily, I'm getting closer to being able to run...I can jog in a clumsy way, for about ten steps, before the weird jack-hammer-wooden-peg-leg pain says "Walk, you fool!"  So I really need to hang on to that concept of IMPROVEMENT  - I have definitely improved.  I need to hang onto that with all of my chewed-up finger nails, and just Keep On Keeping On. 

Oh, you know. 

And I know it too.'s a bit like being in the ozone at times.  Today, for instance.  I used to train 4 days a week, sometimes 5.  I'm down to 1 or 2 days.  Don't I need to rent more field time?  Find a training partner?  Make more videos? GEAR UP?!  Or should I continue to "take it easy" until I can really run?  Just let my dogs play repetitive toy games in the backyard and walk around yet another seemingly endless lake...?  

And I get concerned that my young dog might be picking up bad agility habits, too, even though we're not training much.  Because when I take him to our group lessons I fall way behind on the course and resort to....verbals that he doesn't really understand, and windmill arms, and even 'mother flicking'...or 'father flicking'....or.....something dangerously close to that...and...and....other odd behaviors.  

So I need to be very careful.  Every time I look at a course I need to PLAN:  How far can I lead-out?  How far behind will I get?  How quickly?  Where should I try to get to next?  What sort of signal can I reasonably expect to give?   Where shall I stop and train?

I'm pretty sure it's been almost six months since Riff and I have run more than 6 or 7 obstacles without stopping  - but we most often stop because he doesn't understand what I want.  It's apparent that I'm not breaking down the course enough.  Our best days are when we have the field to ourselves and work with a very specific goal and work with no more than 3 obstacles.  But I get itchy feet.  And...doesn't Riff want to RUN???   So.  Sometimes I sneak a "run" in...trying to get through the course. 

The other dicey part is that I've been experimenting with new methods of handling, trying to prevent my back from being re-injured, and as a result Riff has been confused.  Especially when other people run him...but he's confused when I run him, too.   And - is he slowing down a lot, or is that my imagination....?  Damn.    I've always thought of myself as an "intuitive" trainer - from way back in the horse days.  Being on horseback is splendid, because you're physically "one" with the animal.  The stream of communication is constant, and pretty easy to read.  I remember getting really weary of "pleasure" riding, and being thrilled with "reining" and "cutting" because - finally - we could really boogie.  My horses were excited, too. 

Dog training is quite different.  It isn't easy for me to get analytical, to move slowly, to break things down and work the details, over and over again, without then trying it all out (and having some FUN) by running as fast as we can around a course.  But it looks like my back - and my young dog? - need for me to break it down further, and stop trying to get around the courses. 

These ideas are eating into my zeal.  

So this week I'm on a ZEAL HUNT.  I need to find some agility enthusiasm!  Without running!  Still not sure how to go about it....    ....    .....    .....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two Moods


Looking for mischief

Although....I think we could switch the captions and still be okay! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Photos from the Wedding....

The Rehearsal Dinner set up, in our backyard. 

The wedding party, plus out-of-towners from as far away as Illinois, and Italy. 
Lovely music played the background, but I'm not sure anyone heard it.  Lots of chatter and laughter.
We also set up an easel on the porch, so folks could write down their words of wisdom...  
Fun dinner!
Waiting for the wedding.
Brett's dad and I watch a couple of planes doing tricks.
My sons have two dads.  I'm a lucky lady.

Will bought a suit for his Best Man duties.  Handsome!
Sadly, my youngest couldn't make it to the wedding, so another fellow took his place as a groomsman.

The parasols were popular.
Just married!  I like this photo because it shows the wedding ring my dad wore, which Brett is now wearing.  ♥
And I love the happy bride attendants!  :-)
The Parent's Dance...

....♥  We couldn't stop smiling.  We did not stumble, or step on each other's feet!  Yay.
Will and his girl Jersey watch the dancing.

Emily's folks dance up a storm!  :-)

It was a glorious wedding, full of new friends and family, lots of smiles and laughter.  YAY!!!


PS.   We'll be getting back into DOG BLOGGING any minute now....
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