Thursday, March 31, 2011

How is she physically capable of this?

I had to photoshop the heck out of these things to get Secret to show up -- That's what happens when you take all of your pictures with your cell phone and it doesn't have a flash. ;o)

Secret is the better part of 23" tall and just a couple pounds shy of 50 lbs. HOW does she fit under the bed still? I keep worrying that she is going to get hurt or stuck one of these days, but she actually shimmied all the way across the length of the bed this morning and popped out the other side.

I think Secret will be a gumby dog for the rest of her life. Interestingly, though, in some of our recent stretching sessions I have noticed a bit of resistance when stretching her front legs forward. Something to work on, I suppose. All of my dogs are tight somewhere or another it seems.

Our practice Tuesday night went very well! I found a really fun Open JWW course on the web site that fit perfectly into the yard. I invited Bethany & Rascal over to play, too, but Bethany wasn't feeling up to running him so I did. Oh my. So out of shape.... I thought I was going to about die running the two of them back-to-back. I took a short break before running Luke & Kaiser. The good news is that everyone did a super job! The "kids" both ran at 20" and did great, although it does seem that Secret gets "tired" faster with the higher jumps. Or maybe she's just lazy, because she had plenty of energy later on that night. :o) The main purpose of the evening was to get her back on 12 weaves and she rocked it. I did learn that she doesn't want me getting yards ahead of her right now, though. She is much faster if I stay within 5' or so, which means that's what I'll do for now! I dare say I even saw her single step a few times!

Finally -- Look what we have coming in the mail!!!!!!! Yay! Isn't it SUPER CUTE???? It is coming from Chuckle Pup (which also happens to be the web site of which Secret's photo graces the cover page, although this was bought outright, lol). I saw her post the pink sheep ribbon months ago but thought it was a limited edition thing. When I found out that Adrienne still had some in stock, I said, "I NEED THAT!!!!" She just finished the collar and it should be here soon. Shame it won't make it in time for this trial. But really, this one will likely make it into our daily rotation. So cute!

I have to stop at Farm & Fleet tonight to pick up a new Jolly Ball. Sigh. I was putting together a few more jumps Tuesday afternoon and Secret helped herself to the JB in the garage. I didn't think much of it until I saw her going to town gnawing on the rope. I got over there just in time to see it separate into two pieces. The Jolly Ball on a Rope isn't much good without the rope -- And I can't imagine life without one, so I will replace it. And make sure someone doesn't help herself to it....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I didn't do it....

I still have the dog beds with holes in my office, and Secret still likes to un-stuff them regularly. I love the look she gives me -- "What? I didn't do it." Half the time it's with stuffing hanging out of her mouth.

The yard is coming along nicely! It didn't get sloppy & gross as it melted away this time, I am happy to report. Perhaps because the temperatures have been barely above freezing and it melted fairly slowly. Who knows, but the yard is clear again and we've been playing. I still haven't set up anything more than the jump arc, but it is on the agenda for this evening!

Secret needs to get her legs under her and learn to jump outdoors again. She's had two face plants in the last couple of days since I moved her up to 20" again. The one on Sunday scared me a bit -- She was going through the arc, mad for her Jolly Ball, and she misjudged her take-off. She suddenly went splay-legged and all four legs went in different directions as she landed on top of the bar and then pretty much landed face first. I was horrified, but couldn't let her know it. Secret popped up quickly and I assessed that nothing was broken and urged her to do the last two jumps, which she did. I checked her over and all was well, so we did a couple of single jumps to make sure her confidence wasn't hurt (it wasn't) and ended with a few more trips through the arc.

Last night she just had a digger on the landing. It was a patch of dry, dead grass and we were working on rear cross/switch cues -- I think she was anticipating the cue earlier than I planned to give it and when she had to change her plans she just lost her feet a bit. It was a hard slip, but nothing like the spill the night before. But still, the girl had better get her feet under her or she's going to get hurt one of these times...

The plan for this evening is to set up a JWW course. Time to drag the weave poles outside for a refresher on a set of 12! I want to finally put together the jumps that I've had pieces for since moving into my house, too -- I think I have five more? That way I won't have to use so many hoops on our jumpers courses. :o)

Friday, March 25, 2011

The dogs need Social Security Numbers....

I have come to the conclusion that I need social security numbers for my dogs. Heck, even if just Secret got one it would help. Have you seen the sort of tax deductions they give out for children in this country? As much as I dislike wee humans, it darn near makes me want to pop one out just for the tax benefits.

Well, not really. But it blows. I was hoping for a better tax return this year to help with some of these trial bills (the upcoming three-day trial here in La Crosse is.... well, breaking the bank). I suppose any money coming in is better than none.

If only I could find away to write off the agility stuff. There would definitely be some nice perks to figuring out a way to turn this into a business. :o)

I got a lead on another part time job.... It would suck away more training time, but with the goal of attending NADAC Champs on the horizon, any extra funds would come in handy. We'll see how that pans out.

To make this post somewhat related to Secret and that which she does -- We had a play session in the snow-covered yard last night when I got home from the shelter. She was going crazy nuts for the frisbee and just didn't seem to be dying out. So after I cut Luke off and put him in the house (he will run until he kills himself and I don't need him getting hurt before our next trial!), I got out Secret's Jolly Ball and decided to send her through the arc of jumps that is now frozen to the ground. Most of the jump bars either got blown off or are half propped up, with one or two still set at 12".

Holy moley, she FLEW! I have *never* seen her go so fast. It made me giddy to watch her. I hope that one day we can tap into that kind of enthusiasm and speed at trials. Wow. It was awesome.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


It's back.

After going through the melting/mud season twice already, we are now set to go through it again. Granted, I should not complain too loudly because I hear my friends up north got MUCH more snow than we did (less than 2"), but I am still grumbling. Do you see those jumps in the yard?? I was so eager to be able to train outside again.

Unfortunately this snap is scheduled to last for the next week or so. It doesn't look like we'll get in any meaningful training before the trial in La Crosse next weekend. Speaking of which, I really need to enter. I more or less have decided to put Secret into Open. Granted, that decision was heavily based on the fact that I thought I'd be able to get her on 12 weaves before the trial... She'll be in Open Weavers on Friday, though, so she'll at least have the chance to see them before Open Regular.

Stupid snow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Third trial -- We found speed (and horse poop)!!

Well, Secret proved that she isn't "little miss perfect" all the time, but I couldn't be happier! Secret found a new gear at our trial on Saturday. She RAN and she had FUN!

I brought jumps out into the (almost) dry yard on Thursday to try to get in some practice time. It was bad. I was being overly cautious trying not to fall on my butt in the mud and Secret was completely freaked out by basketball games going on all around us (so much as I can figure, at least, because she was hiding in the garage while I picked up poo). Probably not the best circumstances to play agility outside for the first time this spring. She went through the motions but she was slow, cautious and didn't want to play.

Because the night before had been such a gigantic flop, I decided to try again on Friday before we left town. Instead of trying some fancy-schmancy world team type course, however, I just set up the jump arc that Secret found so fun last fall. GREAT CHOICE. I brought out her Jolly Ball and she was over the moon with joy. I had all of the jumps set at 16" and she just flew through it, two striding between each jump. This made me feel much better than I had the night before.

We stayed at a friend's house up near the Cities on Friday night. Secret was *worn out* playing with the other dogs. I thought surely that would mean that she would sleep great -- Nope. Even though I "let" her sleep on the couch with me, she thought it was so wrong and she wouldn't sleep. It occurred to me that she has never slept anywhere but up by my head, so in desperation I went and slept on the floor to try to get her to get some sleep. This did help her, but not me...

Perhaps the hour-long nap on the ride to the trial Saturday morning helped, but Secret was ready to go right away! She was even playing & tugging before her turn in the ring, which thrilled me to no end. Her first two runs had speed on par with what I see at home! Were they clean? No -- but I was still thrilled with them!!

We did have an issue with searching for & eating horse poop. She found a big chunk of something at the end of the dog walk on the first run and that was it -- She remembered that spot for the rest of the day and found a few more as well. The only time it caused us real problems was in Jumpers when she slammed to a halt and then shut down a bit when I yelled at her. She was mad that I wouldn't let her keep eating poo and it took FOREVER to get her reset before the jump, making us come in just under 5 seconds over time. That was her fifth run of the day (I added Touch-n-Go to her runs in the morning), so I think she was getting pretty mentally tired.

She finished her Novice Weavers title on a somewhat non-traditional Weavers run (the club was a set short, so all Weavers classes ran with just one set that you performed twice). I think I'll go ahead and move her into Open at the next trial to get her on 12 weaves. I will have to decide about Regular.... I kept her in Novice for this trial to make sure the last trial wasn't a big fluke or anything -- And while she didn't Q in either run, the speed & confidence she exhibited made me happy and I think she would handle Open just fine. Then again, there's a possibility that Novice is encouraging that speed & confidence, so there is a point to be made on both sides. We'll see.... I have to get entries in this week, so I'd better decide!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DST, oh how I love thee!

Sometimes I think I am in the minority that I *love* daylight savings time. Love it, love it, love it! Always have! I love having that extra hour of daylight at the end of the day when I'm actually able to enjoy it. I'm pretty sure it stems back to my horse riding days and how much I longed to get out of the stupid indoor arena after a long winter. I've never boarded at a facility with outdoor lights, so the only way I could ever ride outside was when it started to stay light later than 6:00 p.m.

Not to mention that our long dark winters are just so freaking depressing! I can't believe how many people complain about "losing" an hour of sleep each year. Come on, folks, we are GAINING an hour of LIGHT! Happy, bright light! Oh yes, my mood goes up considerably this time of the year. Thank you, US Government, for extending DST. Now the next best thing would be to just adopt it year round...

Now that it is actually light past 6:00 p.m., we have only one more thing to wait for..... The ground needs to dry up and then we can start to PLAY again!!

That's the bike trail where we walk during the day. The frost started to come up today and it was a sloppy mess. The back yard really isn't much better. I have hopes that perhaps it will dry up by Thursday, but seeing the trail go from firm to puddle-filled mess overnight makes me worry that the frost will wreck the same havoc on my yard. Guess I'll find out when we get home tonight -- But overall, the yard is coming along nicely. Last night we tried in desperation to play fetch along the back fence line, the only real dry patch to be found. Alas, even when my aim wasn't horribly pathetic, the dogs typically found great delight in veering off to run through the slop on their return. It didn't last long...

Secret LOVES to be muddy....

At any rate, since there wasn't much we could do in the yard, I ended up taking Secret into the basement for a jumping session. We didn't do much, pretty much just worked on tight wraps and a couple of rear crosses and figure eights. She was an amped up wild & crazy girl. Secret's newest "favorite toy" is the bigger Holee Roller ball we had Karen bring for us at the last trial. It's not significantly bigger than the one I turned into a tug toy, but it's large enough that I don't worry for the safety of my fingers when we tug on it. I can't wait to use it outside where she can really dig in and run after it.

Look who SAT in the mud on our walk today....

I'm crossing my fingers that maybe we will be able to set up some agility stuff outside on Thursday, but if not, I feel pretty secure that Secret will still kick butt at our trial this weekend. We are traveling up to Lindstrom, MN and participating in Saturday only of the Agile Canines NADAC trial! It's in a giant indoor horse arena that I've never been to and don't know what to expect, but everyone says it's really nice. I love running the dogs on dirt, so if this trial goes well we'll hopefully shoot to do both days there in April.

Secret is once again running four classes -- Both rounds of Regular, Jumpers and Weavers. She has a chance to finish her Novice Jumpers & Novice Weavers titles! I opted to leave her in Novice for her Regular runs at this trial. I need to make sure that the last trial wasn't a big fluke or anything before I move her into Open. :o) If she continues to do well at this trial, I will more than likely move her into Open for the La Crosse trial the first weekend in April. I'm not one of those who is inclined to stay in the lower levels to earn the extended titles -- Plus, there is a part of me that thinks, "Hmm, maybe I can get her Q'd for Champs...." It's a massive long shot, but entirely doable if she were able to keep up her streak. We need 10 Q's from Open or Elite in Regular, plus two in all of the games. But really, I think if she got close she could get in. We'll see. Granted, that's just ANOTHER $250 entry to worry about. She's already lined up to be on a team, that is, if we ever come up with a team name!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Photos from Secret's first trial

I watched the photographer's web site like a hawk after Secret's first trial over in Kansasville, waiting for the pictures to be posted. I'm "facebook friends" with the photographer and knew that he takes some very nice pictures, so I was excited to see what he got of Secret.

Turns out that he got several good shots of her, so it was hard to choose! In a perfect world I'd get them all (including some very good shots of the boys), but at $25/each, I kept to two. Bummer, too, because there was one of Luke really digging into the dirt that was awesome. Granted, I could still get it! Maybe I should do my taxes and see what the heck I'm getting back this year... lol

The top picture appealed to me because it gives the illusion of power & speed. Awesome, right? Especially since in the trial video you can clearly see that Secret trots between that a-frame and the next hoop/tunnel combination. :o)

I liked this picture for two reasons -- Secret looks HAPPY! I think this was the second Tunnelers course where she started to enjoy herself more. The other reason I like it is because her ears are up. Ha! I still wish I would have set her ears. Oh well, she's cute as a button, regardless.

We had an appointment at the vet's office yesterday afternoon for SHOTS. Secret was due for Lepto & Lyme. Randy spent a good deal of time going over her for some reason. Partly because the clinic was slow and probably also because she wouldn't let him do anything the last time we were there. She actually let him stretch and move her legs all over the place, which surprised me -- But she froze up again when it was time for the shots, so I held her. Other than that she was really good, aside from climbing all the way up onto the counter on her own... Oh Secret.

Here's a shocker -- Dr. Randy actually said that Secret could stand to lose a pound or two. Everyone else thinks my dog looks anorexic, so that took me by surprise. She was a pound heavier than the last time, weighing in at 49 lbs yesterday. She has gotten a LOT of treats lately.... So we are cutting back a bit on her intake for a bit, at least until spring eventually arrives (if ever....) and we can get back to a more regular exercise routine.

Hmm. Maybe I should have signed Fatty up for a treadmill session on Wednesday...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Second Trial -- Whoa.... Wow!

Wow. I don't even know what to say. Secret totally blew me away this weekend at her second NADAC trial. She qualified in 4/4 runs both days. My baby girl qualified in 8/8 runs on her first full weekend of trialing. She is amazing!

She was scared out of her mind for the first run on Saturday. Her brain blew up when she realized that there were people and dogs all around the ring. That was one nice thing about the horse arena last weekend -- The solid walls around the ring made it pretty "safe" and private for her.

The good news is that she made it around the ring in one piece and realized that nobody was going to "get her" while she was in there. We ended up with 2.4 time faults on that first run (mostly because we held our contacts, but also thanks to having to reset a couple of things) -- But because she is entered in Skilled, she ended up with a 5 pt Q because we had less than 5 faults. I despise 5 pt Q's, but we'll take it! :o)

After that she just got progressively better with each run! I crowded her in Weavers, causing her to miss her entry a couple of times, but we quickly reset and were on our way. Jumpers on Saturday was AWESOME. I over-handled as we passed through a box, but Secret wasn't too upset by it and continued on without a hitch. It was a gorgeous run!

Secret was justifiably pooped on Sunday. I was a bit concerned when she didn't really even want to come out of the car and then immediately went to hide in the back of her crate. Thankfully, we ended up starting with Regular again on Sunday, so Secret had quite a while to chill and take a nap. By the time Novice Regular was ready to start, she was feeling much better and was ready to go!

We breezed through the first round of Regular without a problem. The course flowed very nicely. I was a bit more concerned on the second round of Regular because it had a dog walk/tunnel discrimination (requiring the dog walk) and we haven't had an opportunity to really work on those for a while. She read my RFP perfectly and totally nailed it. I was so proud of her!! That run earned Secret her NAC!

Secret found the Novice Jumpers course with THREE tunnel performances a bit demotivating and broke to a trot once on course, but otherwise it was a lovely run. I find that she tends to disconnect from me a bit while in tunnels, so hopefully that is something that we can work to improve.

Our day ended with tunnelers. Secret was absolutely pooped, so I wasn't sure what to expect from her after our long weekend. Well, she woke up and she rocked it on course! I checked when results were posted and saw that she made ELITE big dog time! Not by much, but darn it, I'm proud of her. :o) I really feel like she has so much potential. That Tunnelers run was her TN-N title! Two titles in three days of trialing!

Here's our video!