Monday, July 30, 2012

Surrounded by crap....

Look, Secret is showing you that the piles of crap are taller than her now!

Sigh.  I really need to figure out what to do with all this junk.  I've started to bring everything home from the office and wow.... You accumulate a lot of stuff over a span of fourteen years in one office!  Today I fought through the dust bunnies and found a pile of stuff that hasn't been touched for EIGHT YEARS.  That would be my assumption considering I found Norman's journal.  For those who don't know, Norman was one of my horses -- what I did before I started on this crazy dog journey.

I had completely forgotten that I'd even kept that journal!  Much like Secret's blog here, I started Norman's journal the day I brought him home from Panache Acres in Janesville -- back in 2001!  It catalogs his training and growth through pictures and journal entries up through when I broke my arm in 2004.  It took me totally by surprise when I stumbled upon that treasure, so I guess closing up the office is at least offering a few fun unexpected finds.

I actually opted to leave the dogs home today.  It's one of the rare occasions where I've gone to the office without them, but I think this week is just going to be too stressful for them -- Well, for Secret in particular.  It was nice to be able to move stuff around and box things up without worrying about them, so I think I'll likely continue to leave them home this week.  I kept an eye on them via the web cam all day today.  I wish there was a way to yell at them when they bark....  They were a quiet bunch all afternoon, but man oh man were they naughty in the morning.

Today is yet another day in the 90's, but I'm home for the evening and figured now was as good a time as any to do a bit of brush up on the equipment we don't see at NADAC trials.  I set up a flowing little ditty using a chute, several jumps, the teeter, a tunnel, the broad jump and a table.  Everyone did awesome, although I didn't ask for much in the heat.  The only real "handling challenge" was picking which side of the C-shape tunnel to send to after the teeter and then, depending on which end was the exit, picking up the line to the broad jump.  I made sure that the lead-in to the table was good and speedy.  Secret skidded right off the side the first time but collected nicely after that.  The little man stuck his table each time, so yay for Kaiser!  Everyone handled the increase in height fine as well tonight, so fingers crossed that Kaiser stays happy this weekend down in Chicago.

The run order hasn't been posted yet for the Regional.  I'm curious to see how many dogs we'll see in the PSJ class, as I keep hearing how large the Performance classes are in other areas (vs. the rather sparse group at the trials we've attended).  I'm also wondering how many people actually enter the Starters and Advanced classes at a Regional event.  It will be nice to not have to worry about running Secret and Kaiser back to back -- at least until Kaiser finishes out his P1 titles.  :o)

Secret still isn't sleeping in bed with us at night.  Last night I did switch her into her Back on Track coat instead of the Thundershirt and I'll be leaving that on her the rest of the week.  I'm very curious to see what she does in the hotel room Saturday night, assuming she's still not staying in bed here at home come that time.  We have a chiropractic appointment on Thursday -- with as oddly as she's been behaving lately, I figure I wasn't going to leave anything to chance and want her feeling her best this weekend.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Doing Better!

I'm happy to report that Secret is doing better.  Things have improved a bit since my last update -- probably largely because I'm doing a little better.

I had a doctor appointment on Thursday and my wonderful GP was kind enough to prescribe a bit of "stress relief" for me.  That came in awfully handy for my interview on Friday, which I'm happy to report went quite well.  I felt very prepared and don't feel like I botched anything.  I know they were interviewing several candidates for the position and I certainly may not be the most qualified individual, but at least I can feel good about how the interview went.

Secret is at least staying in the living room with us in the evening hours now.  I did use the baby gate to blockade the hallway for a couple of days to keep her from disappearing to hide back there and it seems to have broken the habit for her.  Right now she's actually laying by my computer chair, something she hasn't done for a good long while.

Sleeping time is still a bit off for her, though.  It's better, just not back to normal yet.  Secret had been improving a lot over the last couple of nights, so last night I decided to not put her Thundershirt on at bed time.  Nope, we aren't there yet.  She was noticeably restless and uncomfortable straight away and wanted off the bed.  I got up and put her shirt on and she instantly relaxed and fell asleep against my arm.

It didn't last and she did eventually get off the bed and went to lay in the bathroom.  I decided to block her from that and I believe she spent a good portion of the night on the floor next to the bed.  I took a night off from my new bite guard last night but I will go back to that tonight just in case I'm still doing something.

I'm hoping that since we've seen improvement in the evening hours that we'll eventually see improvement at bed time.  It's not the bed that is the issue -- She has no problem with it in the a.m. and she spends the whole morning in bed while I'm showering and getting ready.  If I was doing something to freak her out in the middle of the night I suppose it will just take some time to get over it.

Our big trip to the Chicago USDAA Regional is coming up fast!  One more week, yay!  Will we do any actual agility training this week?  We'll see.  I suppose it would be nice to go ahead and set up the broad jump for her once.  And I do need to put Kaiser back on 12" jumps as a refresher, so I guess I'll have to made myself set up something at one point or another!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

She's official! And stressed.

I received Secret's very first USDAA title certificate in the mail a couple of days ago!  Isn't that awesome?!  An organization that actually sends you stuff without even having to request it!  We won't mention another certain organization that never even sent out awards last year....

I checked online and sure enough, her SPJ title is listed amongst the bazillion other border collie achievements.  It looks like things are processed through the first weekend in June thus far, so I would expect her other titles to show up shortly.  Go Secret!  I am looking forward to Kaiser being listed amongst the very few Klee Kai listed.  Hopefully soon, hopefully soon....

Poor Secret.  Her stress continues, all from feeding off my own stress over the last couple of weeks.  Yesterday I thought she was finally doing better at home because she stayed out in the living room/kitchen area while I was on the computer before dinner.  When we all settled in for the night to watch a movie on the couch, though, she once again disappeared to hide in the back hallway.  :o(  This just makes me sad.

I tried putting the Thundershirt on her and it didn't help.  Tonight I plan to have her wear the Thundershirt to bed.  Secret continues to hop up and down off the bed all night long and I can't seem to put any sort of schedule to it.  I've heard her lay down in the bathroom, next to the bed and out in the hallway.

I have a theory as to why this started -- at least the bedtime routine.  I have a sneaking suspicion that all of the stress in my life has caused me to start grinding my teeth again.  This was a horrible habit when I was younger and apparently the noise it makes will wake the dead.

I believe I mostly grew out of it, perhaps only grinding on occasions where I was SUPER dead tired or had been drinking a lot.  Since I haven't gone out drinking in forever, I probably haven't really done this since Secret has been around.  I can imagine that being as noise-sensitive as she is, the noise of me grinding my teeth in my sleep would probably make Secret come completely unglued.

So....  After work tonight I picked up a bite guard from Walmart.  I just fitted it and ugh, that is going to be so fun to learn to sleep in...  But I will try it, to see if it helps Secret.  My other option is to crate her, which I may still attempt.

In an effort to get Secret to rejoin the family in the evenings, I placed a baby gate up to prevent her from accessing the hallway/laundry/bathroom area that she tends to hide in.  She is staring daggers into the back of my head from the kitchen as I type this, but at least she's not hiding in a dark corner!

It's just so peculiar.  She is fine outside.  She is fine at work.  She is fine in the house 75% of the time.  It just seems to be the evening hours that are setting her off, so hopefully I'm on to something with the teeth grinding and we can bring happy harmony back to this household.  If need be, we'll have an extensive thyroid panel done to see if there's any chance that this could be a medical issue.

That said, Secret is in for a rough week.  I got a call from the company for which I did the phone interview on Friday!  I now have an in-person interview scheduled for this coming Friday.  Poor Secret, my nerves will be on overdrive again and she will no doubt be affected by it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 2 of NADAC fun!

I have no energy to do ribbon pictures and they would just look the same as all the rest, so video will have to do again for today.  :o)

Secret came home loaded in purple again today, once again running 3/4 at our NADAC trial at Family Dog Center.  Despite waking up feeling sick (although better than I felt when I went to bed!), I somehow managed to pull it all together for 13 runs and think I might have actually been a better handler for my dogs than I was yesterday.  Thank goodness for adrenaline, for without it I would have probably just curled up on Luke's beds with him in his pen.  I should take a picture of that sometime -- he's got it set up like a palace in there.

I couldn't actually get any food into myself this morning, but I was able to stomach my newest addiction -- iced coffee -- so no doubt the sugar & caffeine in that is what helped me to make it through the day.  I was finally able to have some pasta salad after all of my runs were done and I seem to be doing a little better now, so that's good.  Now I'm just dealing with my extremely sore legs from being so stinking out of shape....

I'm super happy with how Secret ran today!  She kept her energy level up from start to finish and even her last round of Regular was pretty darn nice!  In the past she definitely seems to run out of steam by the end of the weekend, but she stayed happy and energetic throughout this time.  I was shocked to hear her barking throughout Luke's video, although she was also barking quite a lot when I took him out (which was right after her runs).  Could someone be getting jealous?  Hard to imagine.

Secret broke her start in Jumpers this morning and caught me by surprise, but thankfully I was able to recover quick enough to direct her.  I'm disappointed in my handling of that run as I never knew what kind of cross I was going to use until I got there.  I kept waffling between front & blind in my head and did end up executing a front each time.  Secret managed to follow me in my spaciness, only going super wide on the last turn.

Chances was tricky, at least for the baby dog.  It involved layering weaves at a distance and I just don't think she has the impulsion to do that just yet.  I did tell her "out weave" while she was still in the tunnel (so many handlers were late with that....), but she still came out running towards me.  I didn't even try to send her back out because I knew it would never happen and would only frustrate her, so I crossed the line and we finished happy.

My friend Jana stopped by the trial with her big fluffy Aussie boy right as we were preparing to go into the ring for Regular 1.  Wow.  Secret did NOT like that dog and then when Kaiser barked at Robi from his crate Secret's hackles all went up and she tried to whirl around to go after him -- as I dragged her into the ring....  As naughty as all of this behavior was, I have to say that it sure did light a fire under her butt!  That was a great run with really nice speed!  Especially for the second to last class of the weekend!!

The last run was about two seconds slower but still a nice run.  It was a great way to end a great weekend.

Kaiser!!  Kaiser definitely redeemed himself from our zero Q day yesterday.  :o)  I wasn't so sure at the start, though.  As if it weren't bad enough that I was trying not to toss my cookies all morning, Kaiser went and barfed up his entire breakfast in his crate before the first class this morning.  Ewww.  Thank goodness I had a spare towel in the car to cover up the yucky spots after I cleaned it up -- although crate still smelled like vomit the rest of the day.  I turned the fan on Kaiser the rest of the day after that to hopefully help him feel better.  I think he just got really anxious about running.  He thinks he should get to run in every single class all day now.  :o)

Running Open Hoopers (numbered) was about as much fun for Kaiser as I figured it would be.  Too bad I screwed up in the first half and caused him to turn away into nothingness.  Since Kaiser is always looking for the next obstacle to take, he just circled around and took the same hoop again.  Blargh...  All my fault!  After that we just went, "Wheeeee!" to finish the run.  Jumpers was all sorts of "whee" as well for a nice, zippy Q.

Chances was totally a Kaiser course.  He totally digs his weaves and would probably do them 100' away from me if needed.  The line to the "out tunnel" under the dog walk was very dog-friendly and Kaiser always appreciates a good tunnel.  I really made sure to emphasize my handling of the last two obstacles as it was easy for the fast dogs to go wide and miss the last hoop.  Kaiser nailed the course with ease and brought home his 12th Elite Chances Q!  So yes, that means that he just needs ONE MORE to NATCH!!  :o)

I completely over handled the dog walk in both rounds of Regular.  Poor Kaiser, but all of the dog walks this weekend had tunnel discriminations and I wasn't able to beat him to the end.  This requires me to loudly shout, "WAIT!" at him to get him to stop.  The good news is that he did stop!  In the first run, however, the course required us to turn and he shot off through the hoop in front of him (as he always does).  Thankfully in the second run we were to simply continue on straight, so this was right up his alley and he put in a lovely run.

Luke was a good boy again, but I just wasn't fully there for him, I guess.  In Jumpers I faded off the line far too soon on the final turn and pulled him off the far jump.  Totally my fault, so I didn't bother to correct it at all.  It was a really nice run up to to that point, too.

Thankfully Luke can run Chances in his sleep and this course was pretty easy for him.  I made sure to give him his "out weave" directive plenty early and he didn't even blink at me coming out of the tunnel.  Seeing as he's been sucking to every tunnel under the dog walk lately, I didn't worry too much about him getting the wrong thing there.  Again, I made sure to really support that last hoop so he didn't overshoot it.

We had some odd weave issues in the first round of Regular.  First Luke popped at 10 and then he couldn't find the entry for anything.  Once we finally got that, my over handling of the dog walk discrimination pulled him off that, causing more time.  We ended up 6 seconds over time.  He could have gotten a 5 point Q with 5 faults, but oh well.  I hate five point Q's.

In the last run he knocked a bar -- his first and only of the weekend, I might add!  Then he pulled off the dog walk entry again and then dove into the tunnel when I reset him.  I debated pulling him off the course at that point, but he'd been such a good boy all weekend and was running so nice that I thought he'd prefer to finish the course.  The rest was, indeed, lovely -- and no weave issues that time.

No more NADAC until the middle of September now.  I was waffling between the NADAC trial in La Crosse that weekend or a USDAA trial New Berlin at the same time.  With Kaiser needing just the one Q now, I feel I need to try to get it done.  Secret is down to six now, so it wouldn't hurt to try to knock another one or two out for her.  I'm looking at three more NADAC trials left for the year here in La Crosse.  Oh wait, no, four.  There should be one per month from September to December.

Next up we change gears to attend USDAA Regionals in Crystal Lake, IL in just two weeks!  Have I even talked about that???  I entered Secret & Kaiser in the Regional Performance Speed Jumping on Saturday -- it should run later in the day, allowing me to drive down that morning.  Then on Sunday I put them both in the Starters/Advanced ring, where they will each get to run Standard, Gamblers & Jumpers.  And who knows, maybe they'll get to run in the PSJ finals on Sunday, too!  :o)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back to NADAC! (Day 1)

Today we participated in our first NADAC trial since April.  It seems so long ago!  It was good seeing my NADAC friends and I think the dogs all enjoyed themselves quite a bit.  My complete and total lack of training lately certainly showed as I made several fairly large timing flubs.  I hate it when I'm the one who screws everything up, but eh, what can you do?  Oh yeah, practice more.

I didn't know what to expect today from Secret.  She has been so..... weird.... lately.  I have a feeling that she's starting to react to all the stress surrounding her lately.  The vibe at the office is certainly off thanks to the company closing drawing near at the end of the month.  People are doing all sorts of weird things, most of which include making a lot of noise as stuff gets hauled out of the office.

On a personal level, I'm certainly feeling a great deal of stress these days.  Fear of the unknown certainly comes into play, but my stress level was at an overall high the last couple of days as I was preparing for a phone interview.  I've been applying and sending out resumes for the last three months now and this was the first bite I've had, so I certainly didn't want to screw it up.

Secret kind of had an emotional meltdown on me yesterday.  My interview was at 10:30 and I was just off my rocker.  Secret spent the majority of the earlier part of the day in the hallway, the bedroom or the laundry room away from everyone.  This is where she goes when she's freaking out over storms or other loud noises.  Thankfully she seemed to start coming out of it by the end of the day when I left to go set up everything at the trial site (we didn't enter the Friday classes, but I figured it was a good opportunity to go set up without the dogs!).

Thankfully everything seemed good to go this morning -- although Secret still left the bed last night.  I have no idea what is up with that, but within the last week or so she's started to leave the bed partway through the night to sleep on the floor.  Then sometime in the early morning hours she gets back on.  I tried to stop her at first, but now I just let her be.

At any rate, we had lots of good stuff at the trial today!  One change I made was to switch to using a collar/leash instead of her slip lead.  I've always known she's not a fan of having that thing taken off over her head and I noted at the USDAA trials that she seemed to do better when I took it off quite a bit before we started our run.  Well, you can't do that in NADAC (must wait for the judge to release you with "Good Luck" before you remove the leash), so I decided to try the collar instead.  I think this was a relief to Secret and just one less stressful element for her.

Her first run was super!  She was happy, eager and had really nice speed throughout.  Even her weaves weren't half bad!  I was very pleased with that run and was just super happy that she hadn't carried all of her stress into the ring with her.  OH!  The other biggy is that I got her to play pretty much before every run today!  I didn't push it super long, but I did ask for a bit of play coming out of her crate each time.  I brought two different sized fabric frisbees and was thrilled that she was willing to play, especially considering how close we were crated to the ring and the action.

I was an idiot for round two of Regular and "assumed" that the discrimination at the start would be no issue, so I started behind Secret and yes, drove her right into the tunnel.  Since it was my error I just continued on and the rest of the course went well.  She did bark at me for giving a late turning cue once and I deserved it.

Chances started out with a tunnel and two hoops, which apparently was incredibly demotivating to Secret.  The whole course was tunnels and hoops (plus the dog walk) and this did not inspire Secret to move very fast.  She started at a trot but thankfully did pick up as we went on.  Thankfully you get 40 seconds for Chances, so it doesn't really matter.  Secret brought home the only Chances Q of my three today, so yay for the baby dog!  That means we are now six from NATCH!

Jumpers was another nice run, although I did manage to totally push Secret off her line at the first turn away.  I was able to recover the run, thankfully without shutting her down too bad and we ended up something like three or four seconds under time with the bobble.

We had a bit more weirdness upon arriving home tonight.  Secret left the house and went out and laid by the fence in the back corner for like 15-20 minutes.  I just let her be.  Then she came in the house and disappeared in the back again (hallway, bedroom, etc. -- I didn't check).  After I fed dinner she did seem to perk up a bit and chased Kaiser around the yard some and was all chipper and playful with me as well.  As I type this she is laying in the kitchen.  Maybe she's just tired, who knows.

The big guy had so much fun running 12" for the first time as a Skilled Vet today!  Luke was awesome, despite his super crappy handler.  Our first Regular run rocked (minus the handler who pulled him off the correct weave entry) and it was our only Q of the day.

I called SO EARLY for a turn in Regular 2 and he listened, coming straight to me over an off course jump.  I reached down to pet him to apologize for my stupidity and then just had fun finishing the course -- I didn't correct his wrong weave entry, but the rest of the run was nice and I was happy with myself for pre-cuing a turn in time to prevent him from skittering around the corner and slipping on the floor.

Chances was just naughty.  Maybe I should have spoken earlier, but if I'm facing you it doesn't mean to take the out tunnel....

How many times have I told myself that I was not going to try any bonus lines this weekend?  It's just not fair to Luke as we haven't been practicing at all lately and we've done very, very little big distance work this year.  Another competitor who was doing the bonus line convinced me (she didn't even have to try) that the line was very doable -- and it was, if we ever practiced.  Luke did great, but his handler was a moron and shouted out directions with pathetic timing.  I vow I will not attempt any bonus lines tomorrow....

It's a good thing Kaiser is so cute.  Otherwise I might have chucked him out the window on the way home.  KIDDING!!!  :o)  I love the little turd.  He makes me smile every time we run.  Well, almost every run. lol

Our first run was an NQ (okay, every run today was an NQ), but I absolutely loved it.  I (barely) beat Kaiser to the end of the dog walk, but he got it!  Then he barreled straight into the tunnel in front of him instead of listening to my late turn cue.  The rest of the run after that was gorgeous!  And fast!

Round two was not quite so gorgeous.  It started with an off course tunnel under the a-frame (that I believe I did do a slightly better job cuing than I did in Secret's run).  I opted to correct it with him since it was kind of naughty.  Then he blew off my turn cue and took another off course tunnel, but we just kept going at this point.  All was good until he took a giant Superman flying leap over the dog walk contact.  Despite the fact that he went through the finish hoop (and some judges will ding you for this), I said nothing and walked back to the start of the dog walk with a proud little Klee Kai following me.  I knew that Chances ended with the dog walk and I wanted to make an impression on him, so I made sure he gave me a stop.  He's so cute.... He laid down right above the line and wouldn't budge.  lol  He did manage to cross over the line as he bounded for the finish, though.

Chances, oh Chances.  Kaiser needs two more Chances Q's for NATCH, so *theoretically* he could have earned it this weekend.  He sailed through the beginning and I was able to position myself so that I would have been there to greet him at the bottom of the dog walk, but then he went and pulled a Luke by diving into the tunnel.  Drat.  Oh well.  Hopefully tomorrow!

Jumpers is usually Kaiser's highlight of the day, at least since he got to start jumping 8".  Today, however, was just not our day.  Kaiser was high as a kite and apparently thinks turning cues are stupid and useless.  But he sure did fly down the last line of jumps.  Whee!

Tomorrow Kaiser gets to run numbered Hoopers and I think he's going to think that's the best thing ever (which is why I entered him in it).  Otherwise everyone is running in the same classes tomorrow (Regular, Chances & Jumpers).  My goal is to get to bed at a decent hour tonight so that I'm not a failure of a handler!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

We had a visitor!

 We had a visitor yesterday!  This is Max the Malinois.  He got to spend a little time running around the yard before continuing on his journey to the Border Collie Rescue of MN.

Before I got Luke, the Belgian Malinois was high on my list of dogs I would like to own.  I have always thought they are absolutely stunning dogs.  Granted, back then I honestly had NO CLUE what was involved with owning such a breed.  Even now, with years of dog owning experience under my belt, I'm not sure I'd be the ideal owner for a Mal -- But they are still amazing dogs.

And Max is exactly that, one amazing boy.  He definitely lucked out to be pulled and transferred to a group that will be able to place him in a home that will let him shine.

Oddly enough, Mr. Max actually had an appointment to be surrendered at the shelter where I work over a month ago.  I specifically remember the details because I was having a cow about someone surrendering a Malinois to a shelter (especially since I did not feel such a dog would do well in our facility).  The dog apparently has Schutzhund training and everything, so I could not fathom for the life of me why his young owner would bring him to a SHELTER when there are so many other options.

They never showed up that day, which is good because I probably would have pulled her aside and tried to talk her into going elsewhere (I don't know how good that would be for my job).  I hoped that meant she had found a better alternative or maybe figured out a way to keep her dog.

Fast forward to yesterday -- Melissa from BCRMN contacted me to see if I'd be able to help pull a young Malinois out of my local shelter in Sparta.  Sure enough, it was the same one.  Apparently his owner had been trying to re-home him for the last month or so with no luck.  She had contacted another rescue about taking him and they didn't have room, but that rescue contacted BCRMN about the dog.  By the time Melissa contacted the owner she'd already surrendered him to the shelter.  The SPARTA shelter???  Seriously, why would you ever surrender a dog there?  That place is seriously a dump.  A teeny, tiny dump.

BUT the good thing about that crappy little shelter is that they pretty much have zero policy in place regarding anything and they will adopt or transfer pretty much any animal to anybody.  Give us $70 and don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Max had just been surrendered on Thursday, so the lucky boy only had to spend a day in that gross kennel before breaking out.  He spent an hour playing in my yard before I drove him to Rochester, where he would spend the night before being delivered to BCRMN today.

As such a short-term visitor I figured there was no point in putting effort towards having him get along with my dogs.  He was super sweet and social, though, so I did bring Secret out to see if they would enjoy playing together.  Max was awesome, but holy cow -- Secret was about as awful as I've ever seen her!  Max was displaying every appeasing gesture known to man and she would not back down on him.  She was herding him around the yard at one point keeping him away from all of "her things" and when he came near me she just snapped at him.  She is a lucky girl that he was so balanced and forgiving....  After that she got to go back in the house and Max and I enjoyed the yard in peace (minus the frantic barking and scratching at the door by my three dogs).  The security panel in the dog door got a workout.

Max is 2 1/2 years old and one of the most wonderful dogs I've had the pleasure to meet.  If you know of anyone looking, Max will be neutered next week and should be on the BCRMN web site soon!

Being able to participate in this side of the rescue business makes all the rest worth it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Famous! (in a small town)

Happy surprise today!

This morning a friend posted on my Facebook wall that she saw my dogs on the front page of the local paper, The La Crosse Tribune, today.  Say what?  No way!

So of course I had my mother swing by the store when she went to get the work mail -- I may or may not have pushed her out the door to go right away when I found out.  ;o)

And sure enough, there it was!  A reasonably good sized shot of the Three Amigos highlighted in the upper right hand corner of the front page!  Woot!  Do we get anything as a result of our fame?  Nothing but bragging rights, but I still think it's pretty cool.

It's all a result of some silly Facebook contest I entered yesterday.  I saw it blip by on the stupid scrolling feed thing that I hate so much on Facebook.  Ooooh, a contest!  Who doesn't like good photo contest involving pets?  Granted, it's one of those stupidly horrible popularity contests that require you to get all of your friends and family to "like" a page so they can vote for you....

So anyhow, it was just yesterday afternoon that I uploaded that picture (and one of Kaiser weaving, I have no idea why I picked it other than because it's not a professional photo and I figured the Klee Kai community totally rocks at getting out the vote, lol).  I suppose I signed off all rights & releases when I entered the contest because surely I was never contacted by anyone at the paper -- but oh well, maybe my kids will get a few bonus votes for being the featured pets in the story.

Voting starts next week, so I'll probably post again and start begging for votes!  If you are my friend on Facebook I will apologize in advance.  It's only a $100 Petco gift card, so I suppose I can't get too psycho on you.

For further evidence of their fame, my dogs were recognized on our walk yesterday.  Seriously.  A small group of bikers was passing us from behind when a woman said, "Do you do agility?"  I responded that yes we do and she said, "I knew I knew those dogs!"  I feel bad because I have no idea who she was....

Speaking of agility -- I finally entered the NADAC trial for next weekend here in La Crosse.  Everyone is doing the four core classes both days and Kaiser gets to do a bonus Hoopers run simply because I think he'll enjoy it and I was feeling nice.  Luke will be running 12" as a Skilled Vet for the first time!  I figured why not give it a try and see what happens now that Skilled & Proficient are combined for points.  I think he'll pretty much think it rocks, but Luke pretty much thinks all agility rocks.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The super crappy quality photos today are courtesy of the photo feature on my video camera.  I never thought it took such bad pictures, but I guess I usually just use it to take pictures of course maps.

But why was the video camera out?  Because we actually.... Get this.... TRAINED!!!  Go figure!  It feels like forever since we did anything agility related.  The heat finally broke -- well, if you consider 90 degrees a break from 110 (our actual high was like 103, but the humidity pushed the RealFeel higher each day).

Seeing as we have a NADAC trial coming up in a couple of weeks (that I still need to enter), I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some distance/Chances skills.  I decided to piece together a couple of different courses that I've seen posted/ran on YouTube recently and created this little gem that you see below:

 Yes, I'll pause for a moment while you reflect on the awesomeness of my Paint skills once again.

Namely we are filled with switches.  I added that bonus hoop out there past number three as a bit of a turn-away challenge and it provided a greater level of difficulty than I anticipated!  Secret sucked right to it at least twice, clear evidence that my cues were late.

The 180 turn from 9 to 10 seemed like it presented quite a challenge to several teams at a recent trial, so I wanted to test it out for ourselves.  Timing was critical, no doubt, to get the turn before the dog(s) ran through the finish hoop.  I'm happy to say that I did not experience the issue that apparently many teams had with the dog cutting in between 10 and 11.

Luke did so well (not surprisingly) that we quickly blasted through the original course, so I ran him through it the other way.  It ran well, so I brought Secret & Kaiser back out for another go at it in the new direction.

It was still around 86 degrees out and Secret was kind of "meh" about having a second go at it (by the way, I am very happy with how eager & zippy she was in her first turn!).  She put on her big girl pants and played along, though.  The soft turn from the new 8 to 9 was interesting for Secret.  Granted, I was late and there was a tunnel in front of her...  She got it the second time!

Secret's video:

Kaiser's treats were still sitting on the chair and Secret discovered them as I was lowering the jumps back down to 8" for Kaiser.  I thought that was a good opportunity to have her play with food around, but apparently her "sex toy" doesn't rank above Bil-Jac treats.  So I sat on the chair and attempted to shape her to bring me her toy.  She would pick it up and carry it a few inches before dropping it and would eventually get it to me, so it's a start.  It's hard to pick up a toy when you are standing on it, though, Secret....

We walked a few feet away from the treats and I did get her to happily play with me, so that's great!  We can play around food, just apparently not when it's a foot away.

And now that the boys' video finally finished loading, I can share that, too.   :o)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Booms & Babies

 A day late and a dollar short, but Happy 4th of July.  One of my least favorite holidays (probably right behind Christmas) due to all of the pyromaniacs in my neighborhood who like to shoot off fireworks for a solid month surrounding the actual day.

This year has been better, I will admit, largely in part to the burn ban in place due to our extraordinarily hot and dry summer.  There are always idiots who ignore this, however, and while they may have had to cut back on their big backyard shows, they do still set off the occasional M80 and other big boomers.

Secret has been doing okay.  I haven't bothered to even put on her Thundershirt since it really hasn't been that bad.  Last night, being the actual holiday and all, was obviously the worst night yet and she coped okay pretty much until about 9:45 when things started getting more active outside.  I let her just ride it out in the bathroom.  She came out around 10:40 or so, just in time for the idiots in my neighborhood to arrive home from the public show and start up their own pyrotechnics.  Secret retreated back to the bathroom for an undetermined amount of time -- I fell asleep on the couch (knowing I couldn't exactly let the dogs out and go to bed) and she was there with us when I woke up later.

The babies portion of this post refers to our new neighbors!  Mama Robin moved in a couple of weeks ago and I've been keeping an eye on her nest.  It's right behind the porch light on the back deck.  It's up high enough that I can't see into the nest (even standing on a chair), but I've discovered it works well to hold up my cell phone and snap photos to check the progress.  The eggs showed up some time ago and I counted three.  Yesterday there were two babies!!  In my photo yesterday I saw two babies and two eggs, which surprised me.  Today the best I can see is two babies and one egg, so who knows what is in that nest.  Maybe eventually I'll get a good head count.  They sure are ugly little babies.

Mom is surprisingly tolerant and unafraid of us.  She has been letting me get very close and doesn't seem to be flying away every time the door is opened any longer.  I try not to disturb her too much.  I set out a plate of fruit (grapes, strawberries and blueberries -- I bought what I would eat, too -- lol) and unfortunately it doesn't look like anyone is eating it.  With as dry as it's been I thought it would be nice to provide something for her, but oh well.  The original plate is still out baking in the sun.  I might try changing it out one more time and see how it goes.  I just have it sitting on a tall stool in the yard -- it's hard to find a spot that the dogs won't get to it and I don't have any bird feeders.

 There have been a million recipes and photos going around Facebook recently regarding homemade recipes for "Pupcicles."  In other words, frozen treats for dogs.  I finally jumped on the bandwagon and just slopped together random stuff that I figured they would enjoy.  This particular batch was made using half a small can of pumpkin, several large spoonfuls of yogurt, a jar of banana baby food and two good sized glops of peanut butter.  I didn't measure anything, but the amount turned out pretty perfect for 12 dixie cups, which then all went into the freezer.  The dogs LOVED licking out the bowl, so I figure they're a hit.

Once again it's a million gazillion degrees outside (yesterday was 103, today is supposed to go over 100 again with a heat index around 115).  We played frisbee around 9:00 while it was still a measly 90 degrees and then everyone got hosed off to help them cool down.  We've been hanging inside the air conditioned house since then, but we did just go outside to test out our now frozen Pupcicles.  They went over well -- Although I was only able to get a picture of Kaiser enjoying his because the other two had them gone too quickly.

I don't know that I'll ever get a chance to Frontline the dogs again, as we've been making daily trips to the river in this awful heat.  Maybe next week we'll get a break.

I decided against going to the dock diving event tomorrow.  Turns out it's not in Janesville, it's actually south of Milwaukee on Janesville Road (hence the event title: Jammin' on Janesville).  That adds a significant amount of mileage and I decided it's just not worth it.  Between gas and entry fees, I can put that $100 to much better use.

Like driving down to the Chicago USDAA Regionals the first weekend in August.  We have very few trial choices in August, so it's either that or a day of NADAC in Iowa.  The Regional event is running Starters/Advanced classes in one ring on Sunday morning.  It's just Standard, Gamblers & Jumpers, but with Kaiser in P1 and Secret in P2 I'd be running everything.  It would require a hotel stay the night before (since it's a four hour drive and starts at 8:00 a.m.), but I should be able to leave at a good time -- I don't think the Starters/Advanced classes are going to be too large at a Regional event.  I tossed around the idea of going down early on Saturday and entering Secret & Kaiser in the Regional Performance Speed Jumping class since they are both qualified, but I can't really justify it.  Maybe next year.  It's a bummer they aren't offering Snooker, since Kaiser needs one each of Standard, Gamblers & Snooker to move up.

We do still have our NADAC trial coming up here in La Crosse in a couple of weeks.  We'll see if we actually get in any training time before then -- hopefully the heat lets up one of these days!  If we get the opportunity, I suppose we should consider working on some Chances skills one of these days.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting a bit repetitive

 Life is getting slightly repetitive for the crew lately.  Somehow, though, I don't think they mind.  With temperatures in the mid 90's for several days now, the only activity the dogs really get each day is swimming.  If I look closely, I think I can see gills forming under their fur.  Maybe a fin or scale here and there, too.
They pretty much live life in a perpetual state of wetness these days.  We play with the hose at home.  We go swimming.  We come home and get hosed off again.  This routine has been going on pretty much all summer and I do think it takes a toll on their skin after a while.  Secret in particular seems to have some dry skin and itchies lately.  Oh well, swimming is fun.  I should up her fish oil, I guess.  My biggest concern at this point is how I'm going to keep them out of the water for several days so that I can apply their next dose of flea & tick medication!
 I have a silly idea in my head.  While browsing around online late last week I happened to discover that Pier Pups is going to have their dock diving pool at an event in Janesville this coming Friday.  It sounds pretty fun and low key.  I'm completely mental because this is the same exact pool that Secret wouldn't jump into at the state fair last year, but in this set-up it's outdoors.  It's still a pool, though, which is totally different than the natural water that Secret is used to.  I think if I decide to go (it's about 2 1/2 hours) then I need to make the commitment to jump in the dang pool -- but do you have any idea how COLD that will be, having just been filled with a hose?  Brrrr....

So yeah, have to decide that in the next couple of days.  They have online entries with PayPal and the format is the same as it was at the fair -- Each wave is $10 and you get two jumps per wave (plus practice time).  I was already planning on taking the day off work.
Of course, Friday I was all over this and Secret had a horrible, horrible swim at the river.  I was getting really irritated with her for destroying all of her water toys and may have been a bit too stern with her (ie: yelling at her....) -- and then she accidentally bit my hand and got yelled at again.  She also managed to rip the top off her Kong bumper and without a handle she didn't want to tug and it wasn't fun anymore.  All of this added up to a meltdown and we had a fairly short swim that night.

I took her Wubba on Saturday and she was fine.  Tonight I decided to see if she would swim for a crappy old ball so that I wouldn't have to worry about destroying more toys -- it took a small amount of convincing, but she did happily go after the ball and I let her run off and chew on it all she wanted.  Typically she'd take it up on shore and go "nom, nom, nom" until she saw me throw Luke's ball again and then she'd come running.  I should probably adapt this method more often instead of chasing her down and yelling at her for ruining $15 toys in one trip to the river.  We can save those for jumping.

Speaking of jumping, I got good video from our "shore jumping" session tonight!  Wheee!  I love watching Secret catch air and I think she enjoys showing off.  :o)  Now if only she'd do it in a pool.....