Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekend fun

We finally squeaked in an agility play day yesterday. I received Kathy Keats' Agility Coach newsletter in my inbox earlier in the week and thought that the drills this month looked super fun for the whole crew (well, except Luke -- sorry Luke -- he played on the first one but I didn't make him do the second). I had to work at Petco yesterday, but the 1-9:30 pm shift is absolutely ideal in my book. It allows for sleeping in, being lazy, playing agility and even fitting in a shower (MUCH needed yesterday, lol) all before work! Of course by the time I left for work I felt like I needed a nap already, but it worked out.  :o)

The course maps are in the video, but in case anyone found them interesting and would like to set them up for themselves, I'll go ahead an include them here as well. There was one other exercise that we didn't do. Check out Kathy's web page to sign up for the newsletter yourself. She also has a Facebook page. This is, of course, not to be confused with Ann Croft's Agility Coach page -- she's the one who does the Happy Hurdle drills that we enjoy so much (and haven't set for a while, we should do that!).

I don't know how much attention anyone pays, but note that I'm now running Kaiser with the food stuffable tug toy for his turns. This has absolutely nothing to do with building any sort of tug drive for him in agility (although I suppose this would be a cool side effect). No, it's just my way of trying to get around the "you can take a toy into the ring but not food" thing for the upcoming weave pole competition at the State Fair. I figure if he associates the toy with food, then it's almost like having food in the ring, right? Granted, Kaiser will work without food -- I'm not worried about that. I just think he might go faster if he thinks I'm carrying the reward on me and why shouldn't he get the same advantage as the toy-motivated dogs? I've always thought that this rule is terribly unfair (fun matches and UKI both will allow toys in the ring, but not food). I understand the reasoning behind it -- because there are stupid people out there who can't manage to run with food and not drop it all over the floor -- but it's still unfair to the dogs who aren't interested in toys. Oh well. You work around it, no big deal.

We went down to the river Friday night, just the one here in Sparta. Apparently the mosquitoes have hatched since our last visit because as soon as we got within about 30' of the river they absolutely swarmed me! I told the dogs that this was proof that I loved them, as I didn't immediately turn around and go home. No, I suffered through it so that they would get their fun time in... And now I itch like absolute hell.

I think Kizzy needs some time in a life vest to get her confidence up. She wants the ball and was trying hard to get it, but she would give up if it went out far enough that she had to swim (she did fall in once, though, so.....). She CAN swim, but I just don't think she's confident about it. If the weather cooperates today I might truck everyone down to airport beach for some good swim time. It's been off and on raining for the last 30-45 minutes or so; I have no idea what is in store for the rest of the day... Other than that it's blessedly cool out for the end of July and it looks like we have a beautiful week in store for us!

I'd like to get in another 18-pole weave practice today yet, too. Secret has a chiro appointment tomorrow morning, so I'm guessing this would be the last time I'd set that up before we head over to the fair on the 6th. I suppose I could set it up for Kaiser, but I don't want to undo Secret's adjustment before the trial this weekend (any more than her day-to-day life activities does it already!) and then I figure she'll have had enough weaving over the course of three days that I don't want to throw it at her again until Wednesday. Secret has always nailed the 18-poles, though, so I'm not too worried about her popping on me. She'll be fine, with Secret it will definitely be more about her level of motivation to weave on that particular day and if she cares about her toy in that environment.

The final confirmation for our Coulee Kennel Club AKC trial finally came through yesterday. Wow. I'm glad they didn't cancel the trial since it's the only AKC trial I don't have to travel for, but I have no idea how they can host this without losing their shirt. Friday has 37 runs. THIRTY SEVEN. Secret is the only 24" dog and Kaiser is the only 8P (that's not unusual...). Saturday has 55 runs. No, I did not forget the "1" in front of the 55. We picked up another 24" dog that day, Kaiser is still alone, and Kizzy's Novice JWW class has 6 entries. Sunday has 50 runs and Kizzy's class drops down to 4 runs. Sigh. I mean YAY for short days and getting done early and all, but that's ridiculous. There were several factors involved -- there are AKC trials in St. Paul and Racine on the same weekend, which are the two directions that La Crosse pulls entries from (considering, you know, there are apparently no longer people in La Crosse that actually do agility since there are no classes to take...) -- and while neither of those trials filled either, they were at least advertised. The CKC trial was never listed on the FDC web site, the premium wasn't out there, and it wasn't included on any of the emails they send out. So yeah, they basically added a trial to their calendar this year and then completely failed to advertise it. Oh well, hope it's a fun little crowd.

Monday, July 21, 2014


The link to the above article is making its way around Facebook today. I saw it early this morning posted by one of my Klee Kai connections and now I see it is being passed around the agility world.

I'm astonished at how much "stuff" some people try to pack in with their dogs these days. Obviously they think they are doing what is best for the dog -- keeping active dogs active -- but the amount of pressure some people place on themselves and their dogs is just astounding. I see people posting on Facebook about leaving for some training class at 8 p.m. and just think to myself, "how do they do that?" And they don't just do it occasionally, they do it several days a week! And sometimes they have a class or two before the late one. I just couldn't do it.

I admit it, I'm not a "class" person. I despise the idea of having to work with one dog for an entire hour. We just don't work that way. My dogs are used to sessions that typically last well under 10 minutes each. I ask for a lot in those few minutes of work. I want a lot of energy from my dogs when we work together. I fear that asking for their attention for an hour at a time on a repeated/regular basis would result in some pretty lackluster work and just going through the motions. How is that fun for anyone?

I know people who have agility class one or two nights a week, with rally on another night, nosework another night, maybe a herding lesson now and then, drop in on obedience or conformation classes other nights, and then go to a trial or show darn near every weekend. Okay, while my first thought is, "How the heck do they afford that," I'm often wondering how they keep up that schedule without completely burning out. Sadly, based on many of the comments you see posted online, I think some of them are burned out. And so are their dogs. But they keep doing it "for their dogs." This just seems backwards.

I seem to go through phases where I work my dogs more, but the vast majority of the time they are hugely under-trained. I live by the philosophy of, "if you train them right it sticks." Maybe I'm just really lucky?  ;o)  Or maybe I'm just lazy, because 9 times out of 10 I will pick frisbee or hiking or swimming over setting up something to drill in the yard. I think my dogs look forward to playing agility more when it's not overwhelming our lives. There have been times (like leading up to Champs in 2011) where I just drilled WAY too much and it affects all of us. As the article above points out, often you are better off "being" more than "doing."

I'm looking forward to "being" with my dogs more this week! Only one night at Petco and then I'm home every other night this week. Hooray! It's supposed to be terribly hot the next couple of days, so I'm hoping we can go swimming again now that the water is back down to safe levels. The dogs really enjoyed the beach yesterday!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Weekend wrap-up

Another fun (and quite successful!) weekend of agility has come to a close. As fun as it was, I. Am. Exhausted. When my alarm went off this morning to do NADAC in La Crosse, I thought to myself, "Why am I doing this?" I knew I would regret not going, though, so I got my butt out of bed and got moving.

We'll back up first, though, and talk about day two of AKC in New Berlin on Saturday!

We ran Mike McCoy's Standard run first on Saturday. While this course wasn't QUITE the doozy that we experienced with his JWW run the day before, I still thought it was fun to run and offered some options. The two major areas that were faulted on this course were the weave entry (or the a-frame contact because the handler was so worried about getting the weave entry) and then the backside at 6. I actually expected more problems there than what we ended up seeing, just based on all of the grumbling from the day before, but as it turns out the backside didn't kill everyone. There were just a few really fast, long-striding dogs that went out and took the off course jump before coming back to 6.

Kaiser was running much better on Saturday with much less hesitation and stuttering. He likes his running a-frame, so he definitely started this course on a happy note. His blessedly independent performance on the a-frame allowed me to run ahead and pretty much point out the weave entry to him. I handled the opening from the right because I felt he was less likely to miss the entry with me on that side. Kaiser may be a good little weaver, but he has no problem entering at pole 2 when presented with an entry like this. With me shaping the entry he had no problem.

The off course jump at the backside was definitely the spot I was most concerned about with Kaiser. He didn't really look at it, but he also started to go around the back of 6 instead of taking the jump into me. Is that where he was called? I don't know. He also pretty much came to a halt when he had all four feet on the teeter -- is that a refusal? Long story short, unfortunately something was called on this run and Kaiser didn't get a Q. I hate it when the fault isn't glaringly obvious and you aren't sure what happened. Oh well, I was very happy with this run from Kaiser -- mostly because he was happier and having fun again (especially compared to how he ended on the ISC run the day before).

Secret did a great job! I ran the same plan with her that I did with Kaiser and really supported the weave entry, although she tends to be better at finding them on her own. I figured that the rear cross into the tunnel was a more sure thing than getting the entry with me on the left, though. Secret came out of the tunnel with really good speed and actually shot pretty wide past 6 (looking at the off course jump), but called back nicely. She seemed to slow a little coming off the table and that circle sequence wasn't the fastest ever, but it gave me plenty of time to squeeze in a blind before the triple. With Kaiser I had pushed from the teeter to the next jump, but for whatever reason I just didn't want to step into Secret that much, hence the cross before the triple to put me on the inside. She finished strong and I insisted on a bit more of a stop than usual on the dog walk to ensure she stayed clean. Secret ended up just out of the ribbons in 5th place on this run.

Due to the order of runs on this day, we had quite a long wait until our JWW on Saturday. It was nice that both dogs got to run Std before I even had to worry about it, but it was a long wait... I think it was almost noon before we even got to walk the course for the small dogs.

I debated leading out on the left with Kaiser for this run, but it just felt ugly. I opted to run with him from the start to try to keep him happy. He veered very close to the off course after jump 2, but I was able to keep him with me. I rear crossed from 5 to 6 because I really didn't feel like I had any other option. I was able to finish with front crosses and while he bumped a bar they all stayed up and the wee man picked up another JWW Q, going 3/4 in his AKC weekend. Not bad considering his medical issues just a few days prior! (BTW, that is back to looking normal, minus the little shaved patch of hair.)

My brain was just shot by the time Secret got to run. I was just feeling drained. I totally missed the "go" while I was revving Secret up at the start line, which threw us both off. That said, I still had to haul ass to beat her in for the blind after the triple. Just BARELY squeezed that in, and I'm sure people wondered what the hell I was thinking. lol This was definitely Secret's slowest set of weaves of the weekend, but they weren't too awful. I had a total brain fart and put in a cross between 11 & 12, which made me have to put the pedal down to beat Secret around the corner. She saved my butt on that one, though, and was a very good girl. I'm probably very lucky that she didn't, at the very least, drop a bar on this run from some of my stupid handling errors. As it was, though, she finished up with a perfect weekend and QQ#8! No placement for this run; I think she was 6th.

We got home at 5:00 yesterday and laid low the rest of the night. Originally the plan was to meet up with friends in town for the NADAC trial at a local establishment that was advertising free drinks for anyone who's dog would jump from the dock at their outdoor patio/bar. Food, drinks & playing in the river sounded like fun and I was planning to bring Secret and maybe Luke along. While I was driving back from New Berlin, though, I got a phone call from one of the people we were planning on meeting. She had taken her dogs to the river after the trial and ran into someone who had been over at Shenanigans. They told her that they had been over there and that there was no way for the dogs to get back to land after jumping. The only option was to reach down and fish your dog from the river and lift them back onto the dock. Ummm. No thanks. That's not even safe. I'm not asking my dogs to jump in that situation -- a free drink is so not worth risking the welfare of my dogs. It upsets me that this establishment would even ask anyone to do that. Marketing ploy....

This morning all four dogs were packed into the van to go play NADAC in La Crosse. Talk about changing gears after the last couple of days.  :o)  I knew I would regret not going to see my NADAC friends, though, so off we went.

Luke was so happy to play today! He totally rocked in Jumpers -- he beat Kaiser's time, even, but he did knock one bar that was probably my fault. It was fun beating him to those blinds, though. What a good dog. He also knocked a bar on a turn in Chances, although the rest of the course was clean. The old man rocked his Regular runs and brought home Q's in both rounds. His dog walk was more cautious in round 2, but I think it's because I was checking him up so much due to the tunnel discrimination under it. His first dog walk had been quite confident. This is pretty much how I'm monitoring how close he is to retirement, and as of today he's not ready yet.  :o)

Kaiser was an awesome little man. He ended up going 5/6! His NQ was in the last class of the day when I was pushing for a front cross and pushed him off course to the dog walk. We were both kind of done by this time. But still, going 3/4 in AKC and 5/6 in NADAC in the span of three days is pretty awesome for the wee man. He picked up Q's in Jumpers, Weavers, Tunnelers, Chances & Regular today. When I got home and figured out results I realized that this was his Superior Elite Weavers title. Oh well, didn't get a ribbon (don't need any more ribbons....).

I admit, I was really contemplating not running Kizzy today. I was just so tired and didn't know if I wanted to "deal" with her unpredictability. We haven't been doing any agility practice lately (on the rare evenings that I am free I always end up mowing the lawn lately) and when I did set up a little Novice course on Thursday evening she acted like a fruit-loop -- and that was at home! So yes, it was with some trepidation that I took her to the line today.

Well. She rocked. What a good girl she was! I did a drop and go with her at the start line to avoid the spacy zoomies that she sometimes gets when you remove the leash. The course had two rear crosses that could not be avoided, and no, Kizzy still doesn't have a rear cross. The words "switch" still come out of my mouth, even though this means nothing to her. lol Kizzy was flying and (as expected) spun on the rear crosses. On the second one she spun wide and went around the next jump. Because she was doing so well and staying with me, I opted to just keep running. I'm really thrilled with this whole run because she stuck with me the whole time AND finished with me again! No running, no playing keep away, she was so good!

Kizzy was also entered in Tunnelers. Unfortunately I stood there holding her in the doorway and she watched the dog in front of her run. Apparently she really liked that little sheltie because she started screaming as they wrapped up their run. They were out of the arena before I did a drop and go, but Kizzy followed the sheltie right out the door. Oh well. The good news is that she ran straight back over to me when I stepped out of the arena -- no stopping to visit anyone or any dogs on the way. So THAT was great. And I learned a lesson -- no letting Kizzy watch the dog before her run. Not really sure what I was thinking there....

We ran over to airport beach after the trial to let the dogs swim. Poor Secret had spent the entire day in the van and I figured she deserved to do something fun to wrap up her weekend. The last time we were at the beach we had it to ourselves due to the high water, but everything is back to normal and it was nuts today. Thankfully we carved out a small portion to ourselves, but there were dogs fairly close on both sides. Secret is fine so long as she doesn't think anyone is going to take her toy, so I just kept her focused on playing and she was okay. Kizzy made a new friend, but I kept everyone else away from the neighboring dogs. We did have an incident where some dumbass intact lab went rogue and wasn't listening to his owners anymore (surprise!) and tried to come over for a visit -- Kaiser lunged and snapped at him on his way by. I had made sure to throw Secret's toy way far out in the water when I saw the situation brewing, so she never had to worry about coming into contact with him. Despite the slightly insane conditions, the big dogs got their swim in and everyone was happy. Then we came home and have been napping all afternoon, which everyone seems totally okay with!

I'm at Petco tomorrow night, but then I'm home the rest of the week. Maybe I'll actually get around to doing some training with Kizzy again? Might be a good idea considering she's entered in the AKC trial in a couple of weeks. That said, I feel much less anxious about it after her stellar performance today. Just can't let her watch the dog in front of her.  :o)

Friday, July 18, 2014

AKC/ISC update

We are back at the hotel after a super fun day of AKC agility. The dogs did just awesome and I couldn't be happier with how well they ran today.

My alarm was set for 4:00 a.m. but I woke up around 3:30 and couldn't fall back asleep -- so I ended up getting up before my alarm. I think I was so anxious about not getting a parking spot in the Think Pawsitive lot that my body just wouldn't let me sleep. I knew that I just HAD to get a spot so that Kizzy could spend part (most) of the day in the car or else everyone crated around us would hate me...

We were on the road at 4:45 a.m. and pulled into Think Pawsitive around 7:20 a.m. Mind you, this trial didn't start until 9:00 a.m. today (and that was FAST, the normal classes didn't start until 9:30). While driving across the state I saw our time of arrival and thought, "Oh, we should be fine." Ha! Not by much. I decided I could make it without stopping to go to the bathroom, but if I would have stopped we probably would have been really close to not getting a spot. Insanity. Alas, it all worked out and we even ended up in a spot that had shade for the first half of the day. I brought my sun reflector sheet along and draped that over the car the rest of the day. I had all of the doors open and it stayed really cool in there all day! Granted, it only got up to about 80 today, so it was just plain gorgeous.

We had a long time to wait, so everyone got walked a couple of times before our first class. We had JWW up first, and boy was I excited when I picked up this course map this morning! Finally, finally, finally I get what I've been asking for and get a nice challenging course. You should have heard everyone carrying on, bitching & moaning during the walk-through. Lots of comments about, "are they sure this isn't the international course for later?" I admit, I did wonder what the heck was in store for us later in the day after seeing the challenges on the "regular" JWW course!

I'm sure I over-handled Kaiser all the way through this course and he was jumping fairly poorly because of it. There was lots of stuttering today.  :o(  That said, we managed to keep it together and got through the course clean! Hooray!

Secret did AWESOME. She was just such a happy camper today. I pushed to the back side of 2 and blinded the landing. I think that was the only blind on this course, though, because of all of the off course opportunities and the need to create good turns. We had a nice tight line through the first serpentine and then she extended nicely up the left line. I handled 8-10 with a single-sided serpentine. Oh, I think I did do a blind cross between 11 and 12, although I think a front would have been more appropriate. I totally planned a blind before 16 but Secret was hauling ass and I didn't make it. I flipped Kaiser to the right on that wrap, but for whatever reason I ended up wrapping Secret to the left. It worked, she finished the course beautifully and won 1st place in a really big 24" class. Okay, let's be honest, there were only two qualifiers in our entire group, but she still won.  :o)  And she beat Kaiser's time by 3 seconds, so she had a super nice run. Yay Secret!

I didn't post the Std map on Facebook so I don't have anything to steal from for this post, so I guess I can't post the Std map... It was pretty straightforward. Kaiser actually ended up running Std before Secret even ran JWW. We didn't have any conflicts like we did last time; it worked out really well today!

There was much stuttering in Kaiser's Std run -- worse than in JWW. I tried my best to support him but if I got ahead of him at all he pretty much stopped in front of the jump it was so bad. The good news is that the table was after the a-frame again and stuck in the corner, so I was able to zoom ahead to beat him and throw my hands out in a "whoa" motion. Hey, it works. Long story short, despite the god-awful jumping, Kaiser earned his very first QQ today! Hooray!!! We didn't get nearly as many speed points as we've gotten used to getting, but the wee man is still very much recovering from his little episode just two days ago and I consider him a rock star for hanging in there and getting it done.

I knew Secret would like the course and didn't worry too much about her ability to get through it clean. There weren't a ton of opportunities for off course obstacles, at least not for Secret's style of running (she listens so well!). If anything my only concern was hitting the weaves right off the table, as sometimes she can be kind of "meh" about that set-up. No worries, though. She ended up in 3rd place, but her time was only 0.6 seconds off first place, so those placements were tight! This was QQ #7!

The dogs had a pretty long wait before the ISC classes. I feel it is unfortunate that they stuck these classes at the end of the day. I don't care that I had to wait -- I likely would have stuck around the trial to work anyhow since I don't want to go to the hotel that early, but in the interest of building interest in these classes it would have been nice if more of the Master handlers would have been around to see it. As it was, only those of us running in the class were still at the trial (after 3:00 p.m.) when it came time to play. Not only that, but a good portion of the people entered went and scratched! Not terribly surprising when you consider all of the grumbling over the regular JWW course in the morning.

The rings got really off balance today and we actually ended up running Std first. Thankfully they held the second ring until we had all finished in the first, so we didn't have to deal with any conflicts. After seeing the course maps and how badly Kaiser was stuttering in the morning, I strongly considered pulling him from the ISC classes. When they said we would do Std first, though, I decided to give it a go. It's more than just jumps and I didn't think it would be too bad for him. Kaiser actually did a really nice job! I made sure to support him a LOT and his jumping was actually much better in this round.The only fault he had was jumping straight off the side of the dog walk. Naughty turd, good thing he didn't do that in the morning! Oh well, he was a good boy for everything else.

Secret rocked this course. Her send to the backside of the jump following the jump after the dog walk was super awesome, not even looking at the teeter. She did go over the broad jump with gusto and landed a little long, but I'll take her enthusiasm! I didn't wait around for results to be posted (no ribbons were being handed out or anything), but there were only two dogs running in the 24" class and the other one faulted, so Secret would have won.  :o)  No idea what standard course time runs for these things, though, so I'll have to check to see tomorrow if it got posted.

The ISC Jumpers course was something else. It was super fun, though! I knew that Kaiser would think this was just horrendous. I should have scratched him and not even tried. He went off course over the double right away at the start (as did many others) and he was just slow, slow, slow. Even his weaves were just crawling along (for Kaiser, at least), so when he completed the first set of weaves I picked him up and excused us from the ring. Why push him? There was no point, and I'd rather have a dog who wants to run tomorrow.

Again, Secret just blew me away. It was over 12 hours since we'd left home and it was her fourth run of the day. But she was just as happy in this run as she was in her first. She did a super awesome job at getting the backside of number two without going off course. I blinded the landing and ran for the tunnel. I waited for her to come out and ran with her into the weaves, which gave her a nice little burst of speed. She had a nice little wrap at 5 and then I rear crossed the tunnel entrance at 7. Then it was more fronts, because these turns just aren't appropriate for blinds. Secret did great with the front crosses, though, and really maintained her speed throughout. Again she was just flying over the broad jump and I barely got my cross in before the next jump -- and then I promptly forgot about the weaves and didn't even remotely cue them. Argh. So very close to a completely perfect day -- just 1 refusal shy. What an awesome, awesome job Secret did today. I'm so proud of her!

I was hoping to take the crew hiking on that great trail we found a couple of weeks ago when we were in New Berlin, but it was 5:00 before we left Think Pawsitive. Instead we went back to Petco where I picked up more chewies and a couple of stuffies to appease everyone at the hotel. We are laying low, but I think Kaiser needed the rest anyhow. Poor wee man has had a rough few days here. Hopefully he rests well tonight and is ready to go again tomorrow!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poor Kaiser

Poor Kaiser. It's been a rough couple of days for the Klee Kai. Thankfully things seem to be improving quickly now, so hopefully we'll stay on that trend.

I have been spying on the dogs via the web cam again for the last week or more. This week I had it turned on every day due to my three-day work spree at Petco and wanting to know how the dogs were handling all of that alone time. I was also monitoring how things were going with the anti-bark device.

Quick update on that -- I had it turned on Monday and noticed that Luke and Secret were not spending any time whatsoever in the living room. I believe that someone barked and they have decided that the living room is not a good place to be because that awful noise happens there. We got absolutely dumped on with rain that evening and when I came home from Petco Luke was SOAKING WET. What the...? It had probably stopped raining within the hour. What was he doing out in the rain? Why didn't he come inside?

In addition to that, two dogs pooped in the house. One was Kizzy for sure. I think the other was Secret. So basically I had two dogs that wouldn't go outside and one dog that wouldn't come inside? But the poo was by the front door, which is right next to where I had the anti-bark device located. Sigh. I have no idea. At any rate, I unhooked the battery and have not used it the remainder of the week. That said, it seems to have left a lasting impression because they have remained pretty quiet without it. On Tuesday Secret still didn't spend much time in the living room, but by yesterday (Wednesday) things seemed to be back to normal with regard to where everyone spent their day.

So.... I've noticed some things while watching Kaiser this week. I noticed that he seemed to be doing his tail chasing behaviors a bit more than usual again. I also noticed him checking out his hind end quite a bit. Yesterday he was doing it a LOT. Knowing we have a trial coming up this weekend, I decided it would probably be a good idea to get him in to have his anal glands expressed before we left. Aside from his abscess in 2011, Kaiser has not had any issues with his anal glands, but I figured we should at least get it checked out. I was hoping for a Thursday appointment since I had to work at Petco on Wednesday, but they didn't have anything so I ended up taking a 4:00 appointment and running home between jobs.

Thank goodness I did! I got home and pulled up Kaiser's tail to have a look and whoa, yeah. That's not good. It hadn't broke open yet like with our last experience, but it was very red, very swollen, and very angry looking. We left early for the appointment because I figured this was going to be more than just a tech appointment now.

They took him back to see if they could get him emptied out the normal way, but no such luck. They got one side, but the other was just too impacted. I ended up leaving him at the clinic and calling my dad to have him pick Kaiser up around 5:00. I ran home and grabbed the BiteNot collar that we had from Kizzy's spay just because nobody would be home to watch him and I didn't want Kaiser going at his rear end without anyone to supervise him. Then I drove really, really fast and still managed to make it to work one minute before 5:00.  ;o)

As if I didn't feel bad enough about leaving him home alone while going through this ordeal, he made sure to make me feel even worse when I got home. He was just miserable. Pretty much nothing seemed to make him feel better and he acted like he didn't want to come near me. He was making the most pathetic noises... I knew that the clinic had given him pain meds before sending him home, but I ended up giving him a tramadol before bed in hopes that it would help all of us sleep. I also did the first of many warm compresses, which seems to be what helps him the most.

This morning he was still being pretty pathetic. We all got up at the usual time and I gave him more aspirin and tramadol and another warm compress. I decided to stay home and hang with him today so that I could do several more warm compresses and hit him up with more meds midday. Hey, I figure parents use sick days for their kids, so I'm using one for my poor little dog. Our vet said that there was no reason he couldn't do agility this weekend so long as he is comfortable, so it was definitely in my best interest to do whatever I could to get him past this initial discomfort as quickly as possible.

The good news is that we have had much improvement as the day has gone on! We did MANY warm compresses and we aren't really getting any discharge anymore, so that's great. It's also looking less red, which is also good. Around midday he actually started carrying his tail up again while trotting around outside. He also pooped, which I imagine must still hurt like the dickens... I left for a couple of hours to go do some shopping that I planned to do after work today (I got a new computer for school, breaking it in right now!) and when I came home he was pretty much acting like normal. He got another warm compress and tramadol with dinner. He'll get another compress and an aspirin before bed and then we'll do it all again before we leave in the morning.

Fingers crossed that we are past the painful stuff. We hit him up with the antibiotic shot that stays in the system for several days, so that should be doing its thing from the inside out. Obviously if he acts like he doesn't want to run tomorrow I won't make him, but I think he'll be good to go by then.

Just when I thought all of my vet bills were done until December when Secret has to go in next...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Paranoia/Peace of mind

Ever since a fellow Klee Kai owner shared with me that the clip on her dog's Julius K9 harness just up and popped off one day, I have been EXTREMELY paranoid about Kizzy's harness. I admit that I have looked at it in the past and wondered, "Hmm, what if that ring ever popped off," but it was in the very back of my mind and I didn't actually think it would happen.

And then I heard that it HAD happened. To a Klee Kai. Fortunately to a Klee Kai that is very well trained and nothing bad came of it. And while Kizzy is surely a million light years ahead of where she was when she arrived a year ago, I still consider her a flight risk. If that silly little ring did just up and pop off during a walk one day, I honestly couldn't tell you what would happen. Probably depends on the day and circumstances, I suppose.

My paranoia hit an all-time high upon hearing of the failure of one of these JK9 harnesses and I immediately started walking Kizzy on two leashes again. Well that's not super fun, as I already had four leashes in hand to begin with.

What about a coupler, I thought? Hmm, that could work. I could attach one end to the harness and one end to her collar while only having to attach one leash. Sweet! I casually glanced among the collar & leashes when I worked last week but never saw anything. I was quickly growing tired of the extra leash thing, though, so I looked harder when I worked on Saturday (and since I was working Service, I actually had opportunity to do so). Bingo! Found one!

This morning was the first time trying out the new rig. I'm surprised I didn't think of this sooner! While obviously any of the harnesses could theoretically fail on me, Kizzy is the only one I really worry about, so I don't expect to go out and buy stock in couplers any time soon. I pretty much instantly felt more at ease on our walk this morning.

The coupler was too short to knot one end, so initially it appeared that the strap furthest away (attached to the collar) would end up carrying the most weight -- obviously not ideal and completely voiding the purpose of using a harness. I sat in the garage and fiddled a bit this morning (brain power at 5:30 a.m., that's asking a lot...) when I had the brilliant idea of clipping the coupler ring to the harness ring via the leash clip and then having the extra strap attached to the collar. As you can see by the first picture up there, this was pretty brilliant and worked out just swell. Additionally, the stabilization of the coupler ring resulted in no bouncing, clinking or jingling noises, which is pretty much perfect.

This set-up probably wouldn't work on one of the big dogs, but it will be perfect for Kizzy! And I'll stop having a panic attack when we see a bunny and she starts scrambling towards it....

Not just entirely due to the ring failure issue noted above, but I just ordered new harnesses for the crew this morning. We are trying "The Original Fleece-Lined Harness" from Clean Run. Many people have praised the Walkeeze harness, but Clean Run said they have stopped carrying them due to a decrease in quality that they've noted recently. According to the list owner, Monica, the Walkeeze was based on The Original harness. Clean Run has a limited supply of Walkeeze harnesses remaining, but unfortunately none of mine fit into a size 0 (for $20!!), so we had to go with The Original for everyone.

I do love the Julius K9 harnesses for so many reasons and will likely continue to use them at trials due to their excessively easy on/off nature, but assuming they fit well I plan on transitioning to the new harnesses for walking. Secret has a completely bare patch on the bottom of her chest, which I can only surmise was caused by rubbing from the nylon strap of the JK9. Kaiser's harness has ALWAYS pulled to the side on walks, so I'm hoping the design of The Original is better for him. Kizzy hasn't experienced any problems with the JK9 -- there's just that ring paranoia now -- but I will likely continue the coupler thing with the new harness, too, just for safety measures. Secret gets pink, Kizzy gets purple, and Kaiser gets royal blue.  :o)  Luke thinks harnesses are stupid, so he gets to keep his collar.

Luke was his own source of paranoia for me recently. He checked out fit as a fiddle at his wellness exam back in May, but then a few weeks ago I found a lump on his underside, around the bottom of his rib cage. It was squishy, not attached to anything, and didn't seem to bother him. My gut told me it was quite likely just a fatty lipoma, but my head wasn't going to let me stop at that without having it checked out.

I brought Luke along to Kizzy's wellness visit this past Thursday and thankfully my vet was able to confirm that it is, indeed, a lipoma. The first of Luke's "old man" lumps. My vet said most labs of Luke's age usually have several by now and that if Luke carried an extra 10 lbs on his frame I probably wouldn't have even found it. In other words, "no big deal." He said if it gets big enough that it bothers me we can have it removed, but it shouldn't ever cause any problems for Luke. It's always a relief to get good news.

The dogs are in for a pretty cruddy week. I'm working at Petco for the next three nights, so they are going to get no activity this week aside from the morning walk (which I must commit to for that very reason....). Then come Thursday nobody gets to do anything fun because that's my rule for the day before a trial.  :o)  That means everyone should be good and psychotic come Friday!

We are running AKC on Friday and Saturday, and then coming home to play NADAC on Sunday. Yes, I'm nuts. Ultimately I'm doing it because I want to get Kizzy in the ring again (not sure why, considering we haven't been training agility lately whatsoever!). She gets to try Jumpers and Tunnelers this time. Luke will get to run as well, and Kaiser gets to take advantage of the free day I won at the last trial. Two days of agility is enough for Secret, so she will be off on Sunday. I am going to be so tired on Monday -- when I believe I'm down to work at Petco again.

I did a last-minute entry for Kizzy for the AKC trial in La Crosse. IF they have the trial (the first weekend of August), it will be very, very, very small. I figured if it's going to be that small, why not enter the crazy one in JWW. The trial may still get canceled, but I haven't heard anything yet -- but nor have I gotten a confirmation for Kizzy, so.... Hopefully we hear soon because if that trial gets canceled I have to figure what I'm doing for August.

I'm looking forward to running the ISC classes on Friday. Unfortunately not many other people felt that way about entering these classes. Out of 130 Master entries, only 38 dogs are running in the ISC Jumpers class (36 in Standard). I'm disappointed to see that, because I'd like for this type of class to take off and go somewhere! It's also disappointing that they stuck the ISC classes at the end of the day, following the Open and Novice classes. Had they placed them immediately following the Master classes, at least then there's a chance that more Master handlers would have stuck around to check them out and maybe entered next time if they thought it looked like fun. But seriously, it was $10 to enter both classes (that's $10 for two, not $10 each) -- why would you pass that up? Not me! I can't wait.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

AKC update -- QQ #5 & #6!

We had a super fun couple of days over in New Berlin playing AKC agility this weekend! Luke stayed with my parents and Secret, Kaiser, Kizzy & myself left for Think Pawsitive at 4:45 a.m. on Friday. Kizzy wasn't entered in this trial, but I find it much easier and less worrisome to bring her along with us. Plus she travels well and can share a crate with Kaiser, so it's no burden to schlep her along to these trials. As a bonus, it was cool enough both days that I was able to take Kizzy out to the car while Kaiser or Secret had their turns, as that appears to be when she makes the most noise (when I take one away). It worked out quite well!

I had two trials to pick from this weekend that were pretty much equi-distance apart. The other was at a place called Vadnais Heights up near the Cities, which is a facility that I've always wanted to check out. It's a big soccer dome with a lot of natural lighting and I bet Kaiser would run well there because of that. The Western Waukesha Dog Training Club trial at Think Pawsitive won out, though, because of the judges. I've come to believe that MN trials bring in the most boring judges ever, and I while I didn't know much about Ronda Bermke (one of the judges in New Berlin), I do have experience with Carol Kramer Smorch and I felt confident that she would present us with some fun challenges.

And I was correct! I enjoyed all four of the courses we saw over the two days. It was a nice, relatively small trial (around 350 runs between the two rings each day).

Our day on Friday started with JWW in Carol's ring. We pulled in around 7:45 and our ring didn't start running until 8:30, so we had plenty of time to settle in and relax a bit. I strongly debated just crating out of the car, but despite staying in the 70s the sun was pretty strong on Friday and I opted to set up camp indoors since there was plenty of crating space at the time. I think it's good for Secret to have a chance to settle in the trial environment as well, instead of just going straight from the car into the ring.

Kaiser was up first. I led out to get the front cross between 2 & 3, then I went for the blind between 7 & 8 and again between 9 & 10 since there wasn't much risk involved in doing so. I stayed ahead in the weaves so that I could cross between 13 & 14. I think it was my pushing to get into position for the next cross between 15 & 16 that caused him to pop and land on jump 16. I went for the blended front cross on the wrap at 18 with Kaiser, but he went super wide at 17 and it wasn't as pretty as it could have been. The little stinker squirted out the ring gates but we didn't get whistled; maybe they don't whistle if you've NQ'd? Who knows.

Secret had a great run! I did as much of a throw-n-go as I could by standing at the top side of #1 to allow me to get ahead enough to fit in a blind between 2 & 3. From there it was pretty much just all a bunch of fun blind crosses. I was quite happy with her weaves in this run as well -- they were actually pretty good all weekend! Perhaps because the blended hadn't worked as well with Kaiser, I opted for the inside wrap at 18 with Secret. Due to her propensity to stop short on wraps like this due to my lack of movement, I perhaps exaggerated my movement a bit too much, causing her to jump big and long instead of a nice tight wrap. Oh well, better than a refusal. She ended up with 4th place and 7 speed points in that run.

The timing of walk-throughs was not friendly to my schedule of having a dog in 8" and a dog in 24" this weekend. They were running 4/8/12/24/26 and then 16/20. Because of the staggered starts of the rings, they always ended up building the Std ring between my JWW runs with each dog. On Friday they opened up the Std ring for a "general" walk-through until the 12" dogs finished in JWW, so I was able to get mine done then, and I think I caught the tail end of the actual walk-through for the 4/8/12 group. On Saturday I ended up with my own private (quick) walk-through because they were holding the ring to walk until 5 minutes after the 12" dogs finished running in the other ring, which meant they would be walking pretty much exactly when I was getting/running/cooling out Secret. Carol let me walk by myself, thank goodness, as apparently not many people have the same problem I do with having an 8" and 24" dog.  ;o)

This was a fun Std course. both dogs did just great with the flip off the dog walk into the tunnel, a skill that is rarely practiced in this house (especially considering the dog walk is still in the garage this year). Kaiser got a front cross before the triple and Secret got a blind. During Kaiser's run I almost peeled away from the weaves a little too early in my rush to beat him to the table, but thankfully he stayed in them (although I definitely remembered this for Secret's run!). I left Kaiser to do his thing on the a-frame so that I could beat him to the table and this was successful in getting him to hit the brakes when he hit it. Yay for staying on tables! I do need to drag the table up from the basement, though, to work on this. Even Secret could use a refresher -- while she continues to nail each and every table and land in a down, she's gotten into the habit of popping up to bark at me. This is fine in AKC, which is why I've let it go, but it will bite us if we ever get around to doing USDAA again.

I opted to do the teeter line from the top/right with both dogs. Oddly enough, I was one of the few who chose this plan, as most people ran the line from the bottom/left. I suppose it's because of the call of chute down there, but I didn't have a problem with either dog looking at it and I was more concerned about getting the correct tunnel entry (although I don't recall this being much of an issue for those that chose the bottom path).

Lots and lots of dogs shot forward to the off course jump after the chute, as well as to the off course jump after 17. I did front crosses there (no blinds!) to ensure connection with the dogs and they each did a great job. Secret got a Q (QQ #5!) and 19 speed points with 2nd place. Kaiser got 1st place with 26 speed points.

We got done super early. I think the dogs were done running by 10:30 a.m. I had signed up to work the Open & Novice Std classes and also stepped in to work the 16"/20" Std class since I was there and available. I figured we wouldn't be able to check into the hotel anyhow, so I may as well keep myself busy at the trial and get free lunch out of the deal.  :o)

We checked into the hotel a bit before 3:00 and then we went and found a Petco in town since I forgot to bring poop bags (or so I thought, I ended up finding some later) and I forgot to bring Secret's water dish back from the trial so that we'd have something at the hotel. I also picked up some hooves for the hotel and pig ears for later. It was probably cool enough that I could have left everyone in the car, but why not go nuts and take three dogs into Petco? They were actually really well-behaved. And this particular Petco was completely dead and we were the only ones in the store, so there was no reason for them to act crazy or anything. It was interesting to see a different store after having the perspective of working at the one in La Crosse. I think our store is much better....

After securing poop bags, I plugged another address into the Garmin to help us find a trail system that I'd found online. We ended up taking a nice little 4+ mile hike on the Glacial Drumline trail that afternoon. I wish we had something like that around here! It's similar to our bike trail system, except that it's paved. It would be a really nice running trail. There was even a spot where we were able to access a little river and the dogs were able to go in and cool off. It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon and we'll definitely have to remember that.

The dogs were nice and chill for the rest of the evening and just chewed on their hooves in the hotel room. I fell asleep probably around 9:00 and woke up around 11:30 to take the dogs out -- so far as I'm aware, we never heard any fireworks. Sweet! Perfect 4th of July, IMO.

We started out again with JWW on Saturday, again with the small dogs running first. I'm not a fan of any time a course has me running in a circle due to the complete lack of forward impulsion it lets me create with running, but I thought 1-9 on this course was super fun!

I led out again with Kaiser to give me a shot at fitting in a front cross after 3, then another front between 5 & 6 before wrapping him around the far wing of 6. From there it was a pretty straight shot to the end. His jumping was not super steller on the circle part, but he got through it and left the bars up. I stayed on the inside after the weaves and picked him up and carried him to the leash bucket after the run to make sure the little stinker didn't squirt out the gate again and lose a Q. Kaiser got 1st and 16 speed points on this run.

Secret did really well, too! I did blinds between 3 & 4 and 5 & 6, but then did did turn into her for a front on 6 to get a nice tight turn. I hesitated a bit in the circle part to allow me to sprint forward again to create a little more impulsion from her through that sequence. I led out enough in the weaves to allow me to get ahead for the cross before 18, simply because I know she hates me crossing her path at the finish line. Secret picked up another Q and 8 speed points this time. It was a fast course for our entire class, though, and she just missed out on placements this time (5th place).

I almost feel compelled to do an entire post on Carol's Std run from yesterday (which I probably should do for as long as this is!). This was an INCREDIBLY deceptive course on paper. When I picked it up in the morning I was a little let down, as I thought Carol would throw more at us than this. Silly me. This course had an amazingly low Q-rate, and for many, many, many reasons. Almost every where you looked there was an off-course option presented. The majority of the NQs probably originated at the first tunnel entry -- the dogs were pointed straight at the wrong entry and it didn't seem to matter if you handled from the top or bottom. Each were equally as likely to go wrong it seemed. The weave entry got a lot of people as well. Either dogs went off course to the tire (especially those with running contacts), or they hit the entry bad, or they popped when a handler did a rear cross. Next, NUMEROUS dogs took the off-course double after the weaves instead of getting that nice tight turn to 11. Several dogs then went to the a-frame after the tire instead of getting the turn to jump 13. Lest you think your challenges are done when you hit the table, you still had the off-course jump to contend with from the last tunnel to the dog walk. It was a seriously challenging (and fun!) course. Kudos to Carol, I really do like her courses.

I hadn't gotten much of a walk-through with Kaiser but I won't blame that for our troubles.  :o)  I started on the bottom/left with him and led out. He shot ahead of me to the teeter and I thought for sure he was going to fly off, but he hit the brakes at the last second and rode the teeter down. Good boy! When I called "out tunnel" to push him to the correct entry he thought for a second that I surely meant "out chute" and veered in that direction. I don't think that was called, though. I again raced him over the a-frame to beat him to the weaves and he hit his entry nicely. I hung back too much to pull him off the frame after the tire and he was ahead of me going to the table and bounced it. Sigh. Then he left the table early, too. Stinker. Nice finish, though! Kaiser's QQ count remains at 0.

I had the opportunity to walk the course again before Secret's run, which I really appreciated after having the opportunity to see where all of the traps were. I ran with her on the right and blind crossed the teeter exit. I was well ahead of her going over jump 5 and thought it would be an easy push into the tunnel, but she was starting to dive behind me into the wrong end. I did one of my awful "NO" screeches and she stopped dead and looked up at me. lol Poor dog. I had no idea if anything was called or not, but I chucked her in the correct entrance and we took off again. I beat her over the frame into the weaves and then threw in a blind after the tire to keep the forward momentum and pull her away from the off-course a-frame. I then opted to run the wall side of the dog walk to pull her away from the off course jump (which was REALLY close for the big dogs especially). She nailed her dog walk and sailed over the triple for a lovely finish. The peanut gallery confirmed that nothing was called at the tunnel and that it was a clean run. QQ #6 with 2nd place and 14 speed points. Whew. That was fun!

I packed everything up and stuck the dogs in the car, then worked the 16" class since I had to wait for results anyhow. We were still on the road by 11:30! I brought Luke home after going to dinner at my parent's house (my brother is in town with his family) and everyone was happy to be together again. I think Kaiser, especially, always feels a little lost on these overnight trips without his Luke.

And while this post is already far too long, I cannot let it go without celebrating Kizzy's one-year anniversary with us! Yesterday (July 5) was the one-year anniversary of the phone call I got saying that she had shown up back at the shelter again. The little dog that had been missing for over 9 months and was thought to be dead was, in fact, quite alive and at the shelter again! We will never know what she was up to for all of those months, but I feel so lucky to have her now. Who would have ever thought that would have been the end result during those weeks that we were looking for her? There have certainly been challenges, but it's also been incredibly rewarding. I wouldn't have done anything different with regard to my decision to keep her -- because it's not that I think I'm more capable than anyone else, but I just don't know that there are too many people out there who would want to deal with her (or at least how she was a year ago). Kizzy has come a long way in the past year and is a wonderful little dog. I'm hopeful that we'll continue to grow as a team in this coming year and that she'll do great things in agility.  :o)