Monday, January 9, 2012
What we did on January 6
This is the BEST WINTER EVER. I don't care if people are screaming "global warming!" from their rooftops, I would be pleased as punch to never see snow again in my lifetime.
While I'm sure that won't happen, I can at least take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather we are currently experiencing in Wisconsin. It hit 50 degrees again this past Friday, so I skedaddled home from work a bit early so that I would have enough sunlight to set & run a course with the dogs.
My options are limited due to the contacts being packed away for the winter -- well, EVERYTHING is packed away right now, but everything else is "easier" to bring out. I was looking for something that wouldn't require too much set-up time but that would offer us some fun & unique challenges (ie: more challenging than a NADAC Jumpers course). I went to the agility course maps web site that afternoon and found a really fun UKI Jumpers course!
This is the "Champion" version of the course, which I believe is more or less the "open" division of UKI. The Novice or Starters course, whatever they call it in that organization, was exactly the same course but minus a few of the wraps in the middle. I decided to suck it up and go for the harder course. The level above Champion wasn't posted on the site -- I'd be scared to see it. :o)
The dogs did far better than I anticipated! There were all sorts of challenges that we don't see very often, starting with the threadle at the start of the course. By the way, does anyone else have problems noticing threadles on course maps? My brain just doesn't catch them right away and when I originally printed the course out I saw a wrap at jump three, not a push through/threadle. Thankfully I did finally realize it while building, so I did mange to run the course as printed. I used hoops at numbers one and five because I ran out of jumps, but otherwise I tried to set the course as true as I could, knowing that jumps add to the difficulty of many of the questions posed.
Secret rocked it out! She was just lit up from the get-go and really seemed to enjoy herself. Her first few weave poles were out of this world -- at least compared to what you see from her at trials. She stayed happy and enthusiastic through several repetitions of the course! So long as I supported her path and handled it halfway decently, she did impressively well. Of course I have to wonder if her Back on Track blanket is helping her back issues and she performed better as a result. I suppose the true test will be at her next trial -- I'm really waiting to see if I notice a difference in her weaves in that environment.
I didn't come out of Secret's session with a very long list of homework. It wouldn't hurt to revisit some call to heel exercises, as both of us had a bit of a brain fart about how threadles work. She only back-jumped on a wrap once or twice, so I wasn't too concerned about that. Otherwise the only problems we had were when I got a bit lazy or sloppy in my handling. I was thrilled with how she drove down the final line time and time again -- she was hauling!
I even managed to get it on video! Yeah, I had to set the camera on the fence post again and we are ants, but it didn't turn out too horribly.
The boys played as well, of course. Kaiser has gigantic space bubble issues thanks to me being entirely NADAC focused with him during his foundation training. Everything he was taught was centered on distance. As a result, he doesn't do "tight" work very well, or like me stepping into his space. Considering that, I thought he did quite well. Our biggest issue was the tunnel after the weave poles and then, of course, his classic back-jump-instead-of-wrap problem. He got it together by the end, though, and did quite well. One thing I love about Kaiser is his can-do attitude. Even when something goes wrong, he is very good about coming back and trying again. He didn't always used to be like that!
I am not about to worry about teaching new skills to Luke, who recently turned eight years old. Luke is a NADAC dog and will always be a NADAC dog. He is not built for tight courses, but this is what was set and he wanted to play, so I figured I'd at least give him a shot. I work Luke at 8" at home to try to save his body (he runs so hard that it is easy for him to hurt himself!!). The big guy surprised me and had some impressively tight wraps and even did well with the threadle! He's such a fun guy to run.
We have at least a few more days of warm temperatures ahead, so hopefully there will be more opportunities to continue to train outside. I'm not one to tempt fate, however, so I have been schlepping all of my equipment in and out of the garage as it is used. I figure the first time I try to leave anything outside we will get dumped with a freak blizzard out of nowhere or something. It's a pain and a hassle, but it's worth it!
Look at what Secret gave me this morning. It's even prettier now that it's becoming colorful. Oh yes, it is one heck of a shiner!
Secret can occasionally be a putz about jumping into the car when she's wearing her Back on Track blanket. I don't know why, because she's shown that she is perfectly capable of getting in there on her own. Last week she was being lazy, so I assisted her in the same way I do Luke (guide her front end up and then hoist the butt). This morning she was just standing there again like she expected some assistance, so I leaned over and put a hand under her chest for the first part -- and then out of the blue she sprung up and just walloped me right on the temple with the bony part of her head.
I immediately grabbed my eye and started to let out a stream of cuss words, mostly aimed at Secret (although granted, it really wasn't her fault!). I got Kaiser in the car and then went into the house to check the damage. Considering how bad it hurt, I figured there must be something to look at.
And there was. It blew up INSTANTLY. I filled a ziplock bag with ice and held it to my eye the entire drive in to work -- that was fun. This photo was taken after a good thirty minutes of icing and I kept ice on it for about another hour. It didn't help! I finally took some ibuprofen around 10:00 to help with the throbbing and the headache improved at that point. Now the only annoyance is that I don't have any peripheral vision to the left due to a giant lump being in the way.
So thanks a bunch, Secret. Let's try to be a bit more careful in the future!