It’s Just Avoidance

I’m typing up the jumping workshop, and things to do with ACWA and Greg Derrett and other personal writing projects and when I come to the point of having to actually get on with things on my TO DO List I invariably fall back on silly things like this;

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.
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Ambivalence at the trial

am·biv·a·lence
–noun

1. uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.


I was afflicted by the above tonight. Our last trial of the year – Dobe Club ran it. I wanted to do well and be competitive but at the same time this air of indifference came over me causing me to handle in a rather lacklustre fashion. Bad handler. I don’t know what I was thinking. In Masters Jumping Cypher knocked the first bar…..grrrr. We finished the course anyway – and he listened well. He kept that up for his Open Agility run – ran clear with 6th place. In Masters Agility he was away with the fairies. He missed a dogwalk contact – shock horror! First one in what feels like forever! That was the first sign of neural disengagement, the second sign was he pulled out the second last pole of the weavers. Third sign – heading towards the tunnel, I signal tunnel with arm, body and mouth, he heads all the way to the entry and then decides I must have been bluffing, turns around and comes with me. Weirdo. In Open Jumping I was the weirdo – he’s going the right way, I’m squinting at this number next to a tunnel thinking perhaps I’d walked the course wrong so I call him off only to realise that in actual fact we were going the right way. He was a good kid though, kept all his bars up and did as I asked.

Raven…well she had fun tonight as did I when I ran her. Open Agility she received a very generous clear but came in 11th (gives you an idea of how generous it was), Masters Jumping I did that thing where I play peekaboo with a jump. As in ‘get in close around me on a post turn but SURPRISE! There’s jump for you there Raven!’ She knocked it, we kept going, she kept the rest of her bars up and I had a ball working her distance skills. In Masters Agility it was all good until I’d neglected to tell her about a turn coming up after she’d accelerated into a nice shallow bend line of jumps. Ahh well she had fun and I enjoyed the run. She knocked one bar after I relaxed my handling a bit. Who am I kidding – my handling has pretty much been in relaxed status all night! Then in Open Jumping I did what I lecture all my students not to do – took my eye off my dog for half a nano second. Hence we did a lovely run on this course with two extra jumps in it for fun. She and I both decided the course needed more obstacles.

And that, as they say, is that for 2007. No more trials now till the end of January. Lots of training to do…and I really have to work on putting some condition on them. I have been slack with their exercise regime. But yay – that’s what holidays are for.

PS Saw this tonight (someone emailed me the link) pretty fascinating what Orcas can do. Read here after watching all the way through to the end.

Self Criticism Vs Critical Reflection

Just back from first session with Cathy Slot from Queensland who is over in Perth conducting a jumping workshop based on Susan Salo’s teachings. She has worked with Susan a couple of times now, including 7 days last year in Canada, lucky girl! Anyway this will only be brief as we are back early tomorrow morning for the practical side of things. I was just struck by an observation I had made about something she was talking about. It was regarding how we probably underestimate the power of watching our dogs and others run in trials as a tool for improving our own training in terms of how our dogs jump. It made me realise there is a difference between self criticism and critical reflection. Maybe it’s my edu-speak jargon coming back to haunt me, having been a teacher for seven years now but the word ‘reflection’ to me implies something you do in order to fix things or make them better or to try and improve. I’m not sure about other handlers but quite often I come off a course in trials in full on self criticism mode, able to articulate stridently to all around me (whether they are even remotely interested or not) exactly how I managed to stuff up that run and what a complete doofus I was in not seeing something early enough and what a pity it was because it was all going *so* well up until that point. I hardly ever (in fact never) take the time to watch any videos of my runs, or think about what happened or what I saw taking place in a reflective mode that is constructive rather than negative or completely destructive. Oh sure I go home and write down what happened in each of our runs, what bar dropped and where or what other errors happened. I have the acronym HE in my trial record keeping. It stands for Handler Error. Sadly it has a depressingly regular appearance. But I digress. All I’m trying to say here is that I really need to start applying more critical reflection and less self criticism to my runs. I know Agility is simply a fun sport we play with our dogs and I have managed to get much better over the years at not holding onto those self criticisms for too long. I know there are those out there who would insist such reflection is probably over thinking things but I am of the firm belief that if we don’t try to improve or make things better or become more skilled at what it is we enjoy doing then really, what’s the point? I’m sure people can appreciate that this self improvement can and should happen on many different levels depending on the persons’ perspective. Whether it’s a brand new agility person who simply wants to achieve attention from their dog as they are walking up to a start line or a world champ level who wants to shave those extra milliseconds off their run by tightening up a particular behaviour performance. It is all relative as they say. So I’m looking forward to this weekend with a view to becoming a more critically reflective agility handler/trainer. Jumping seems like a great place to start as no matter what venue you run in or even what event you do (with the exception of tunnellers I guess) there are always going to be jumps, and they are a whole puzzle by themselves that need to be solved before you can broach the whole agility course problem.

Evening Trials and Sprint Photos

Last night Southern River held its’ last trial for 2007. Raven was pretty much as feral as she was last week, two bars in Masters Jumping, one bar in Open Agility, and then we took a jump from the wrong way on Masters Agility (my fault), she also knocked a bar after that (her fault) and then in Open Jumping I didn’t actually get to walk the course and thus ended up on the wrong side of the line of jumps home and she went off course but absolutely jumped every bar clean as you do. Totally my fault once again!
Cypher – well to be honest I wasn’t expecting much from lughead last night. Spryte’s at Day 14 of her season and he does seem to be somewhat distracted by her – he has alot of nervous energy that keeps him checking in on me or Tim to see if we’re going to let him at her or if he is confined, to whining and squeaking his needs to us. He’s getting more and more stressed about it as the days go on, I’m sure he’s checking his internal calendar and is freaking out because he knows somehow in that fuzzy brain of his that the girl won’t be for the taking very much longer!
So with that in mind I would have beeen grateful to get him round the course without losing focus, and I am pleased to say he went clear in Masters Jumping for 3rd place in the 500 class, he went clear in Open Jumping, and I thought he’d gone clear on a really tough Masters Agility course when I looked up as I got his lead and saw a bar on the ground. He’d knocked it and I didn’t even notice! That was a bugger as it was a very challenging course and he did very well on it. In Open Agility he knocked the last bar jump – a spread. Roll on jumping workshop!!
Today we took Rave and Cy down the park and took some flat out sprinting shots of them with the view to getting a good one of each made up into a sticker. These are what I have so far to choose from but I’m not sure if I will try and get some more.

Look at that face! Fangs hanging out, flews flying….
there’s definitely a roadrunner somewhere.

The Cypher sprint…

there’s a frisbee up ahead.



Cancer Check Up

Raven and I saw Dr Ken yesterday for her first post-chemotherapy check up, one month on from her last treatment. Raven was pissed. She thought I was leaving her there. She was quite okay with the liver treats at the reception counter though. Ken was very pleased with her, he checked her over thoroughly feeling her nodes in her neck, in front of her shoulder blades (pre-scaps for those in the know) and behind her knee or the pre-popiteals? He looked down her throat and did a general full body check. All was good. He said he couldn’t be happier with the way she was physically. Weighing in at 16.4kg she was still at her normal weight and he assured me that new hair/coat and whiskers were growing ‘just on the inside’ at the moment and so they will take a while to come back. She certainly does have a thinner coat and seems to still be losing it. He told me he was happy to see Raven as regularly as I wanted
him to but at this stage he felt that due to the fact that I was quite on the ball with keeping a check on her (read that as ‘obsessively checking nodes every day’) that it wouldn’t be necessary to see her any more than once every three months or so. That made me a happy camper hearing all that, plus the fact that she has now moved up in the statistics game to possibly being one of those 20% of dogs who are doing really well at this stage after diagnosis and who never have to come back in for more chemo. Of course there’s a big bunch of 80% of dogs who do drop out of remission too but as Ken said – someones’ dog has got to make up that 20% 🙂
He basicially recommended I carry on exactly the way we have been doing, keeping her balanced diet up, ensuring she does her agility and gets her exercise, and just being very hands on with keeping an eye on her. So that was very assuring to hear. He told me they’d done about 10 Bone Marrow Transplants since Raven had started chemo, that there was also a new protocol they used for dogs dropping out of remission involving double the dose of cyclophosphamide and of course bone marrow being reinserted, and that he was still frustrated by the prohibitive cost of it all and that I shouldn’t get him started on the pet insurance debate as we’d be there all day. I got the impression that Pet Insurance and Oncology treatments didn’t really see eye to eye.
So fingers crossed now – that Raven is one of those precious 20%. Although he did say if she didn’t happen to be and she had to have a repeat course of chemotherapy that the effectiveness and remission times the second time around for a dog doing this well currently was virtually the same.
Anyway as Ken said, no point in worrying about what you can’t control the best thing to do now is just to savour every moment that she is well and with us and being loved. That, I think, was the most important piece of advice I took from yesterday’s appointment.
*I can’t believe I used the phrase ‘got to be’ THREE times in my last post. I think it comes from teaching 12,13 and 14 year olds for too long.

For those who appreciate SCRUBS

Hehheh. I love this show. It has got to be some of the wittiest dialogue ever written.I’d love to see Dr Cox in a room with Stewie from Family Guy. Family Guy is also funny but usually only when Stewie speaks. A quote from Scrubs (only appreciated by those who know the characters)

CARLA: “Why is your mouth red?”
COX: “Duct tape, two hours in a morgue drawer, don’t piss off the Janitor, end of story



But wait there’s more….


J.D.: (to Keith) “Keith, you’ve got to stop paging me for totally unimportant things!”
[Noticing the patient]
“Ohhhhh! That man’s chest cavity is completely open! I can see his heart beating!”
Keith: (to J.D.) “He sneezed and all his surgical staples popped out!”
J.D.: (to Keith) “Good page, Keith. Good page!

Ahhh…funny TV remember that? Scrubs has got to be the only show apart from Seinfeld that has had tears of laughter coming down my face….and that kind of laughter has got to be good for you. I have to close with one more...

Julie (drug rep): “This drug is the best one on the market. The only side effects are nausea, impotence and anal leakage.”
Dr. Cox: “And, I’m getting two out of three, just from having this conversation.”

Dr Cox – you rock!