Random musings…

Because I can. I’m on holidays. Savouring every last hour of freedom. By posting here.
So – Things I have established this week.

1. I’ve used the target far too long in Spryte’s two on two off dogwalk training. No more target. Now just work on rewarding the position she gets in. Which is always two on two off when I don’t run the whole thing. Work on the position becoming completely independent of me.

2. Slippery Elm powder works great for dogs stomachs. When they’re having…you know….the kind of unpickableup poop that needs a bucket of sand over the top of it.

3. This blog here rocks. Team Small Dog. Funny and dog related and agility related. And clever without trying – I am so not good at that.

4. I still love this show (BLACK BOOKS) even though I’ve watched every episode of all three seasons through twice. Bernard Black makes a delightfully grumpy Irish bastard. It makes me laugh in the kind of way that has dogs running to check you’re ok, stomach hurting and tears rolling down my face. Not every episode but most.

Bernard Black trying to do his taxes

This could be me at tax time

Brain going offline

5. Raven kicked chemo arse this week with a 2.4 WBC reading and is still on track for everything. She has three more treatments in total left. Not sure of the time frame exactly but she should be having the BMT in the beginning of June.

6. Every year and every holiday I manage to perfect the art of procrastination to the level of PhD. I swear that I could achieve a PhD in Procrastination with both hands tied behind my back.
I like to talk about that like it is a good thing.

7. Swiss Miss is the best hot chocolate you can buy from a Supermarket. How do I know this? I drank some the other day…WITHOUT MILK. Whoever heard of good hot chocolate *without milk*? Well folks it can be done. Woolworths. Check your hot beverage aisle.

8. There are no decent movies out right now. Well none that I’d want to part with 16$ to go and see. Bring on the superhero flicks – Iron Man, the Dark Knight, Hellboy2.

9. I’ve established that at the age of 33 a person can discover comics. Superman/Batman comics to be specific. The art and medium of comics is not appreciated enough I’ve found. I’ve spent 33 years underappreciating it. I have much time to make up. Yay for downloadable comics. Is there anything you cannot download? No wonder Southpark went into a post-apocalyptic state when there was no Internet.

10. ANKC Agility Rules Revision Submissions are due this week in WA. I put in NINE changes. Because folks we need to change. Not a lot of things but some things definitely. Get your submissions in now if you have ever caught yourself standing at an Agility trial thinking – “Well, that’s just not right”


State Titles & SuperSpryte!

Despite the absence of work it would seem that so many things have been piling up recently that I haven’t had the chance to notice I’m on holiday. It shall be definitely noticed Monday morning though. I’ve not updated for a couple weeks now so there’s been a few happenings to report on.

Saturday before last was the Perth Training Club Agility and Jumping Trial and there I was very pleased with most of the runs I did. Spryte did a lovely clear round in NFC Novice Agility (her first one at a trial so far) and then in NFC Novice Jumping she just mistimed her take off for one bar, crashing and face planting through it. Other than that she did a lovely clear round.

Cypher did quite well picking up 5th places in both Masters Jumping and Masters Agility. In Open Jumping he knocked the very last bar on the last jump – a spread. Other than that the run was smooth. Open Agility he missed the distance challenge, an unusual angle on the broad jump causing him to splice it. So all in all very happy with his runs. Raven did a cracker of a run in Masters Agility and I was extremely pleased with it – she got a tough call on the seesaw which I felt she had done correctly so I kept running like we were clear and she handled the course beautifully. Masters Jumping I wussed out on the lead out and let her go before I should have causing all sorts of problems. Open Agility I pushed her over a wrong jump, admittedly because I was caught on the back foot with her speed, she seemed to step up a gear and I just wasn’t ready for that. Open Jumping I did a crap front cross on her and pushed her over the wrong jump.

I joined up with Linda Mecklenberg’s AwesomePawsHandlingSystem email list last week and have found the posts to be extremely interesting in terms of discussion about handling and what we have been training our dogs to do with regards to understanding the combination of cues Linda uses when she handles. Great stuff and very high volume so I’ve flicked it to digest now.

I am still not happy with Spryte’s dogwalk contact and this week will get the contact board out again and do reinforcing sessions of her 2o2o position. Her weavers also need lots of proofing. I know these are all issues with baby, green dogs just starting out in Novice but it’s something you just can’t let slide if you don’t want to have to be paranoid about things when you are out in the ring competing. She had a glitch a couple weeks back with standing up on the start line and of course I drilled the sit/waits every day for two weeks to help overcome that little startline behaviour.

I think avoiding that chronically bad habit (and very hard to kick) of handling to cover gaps in training is one of the keys to success. I handle Raven like this quite often. Just the other night we couldn’t seem to get round a simple oval circuit of 6 jumps with a u shaped tunnel at either end unless I slowed off a little with my driving/running forward. Always bars kept being dropped. The minute I stopped running flat out she kept bars up. That really pisses me off no end. Clearly, there are and always will be, huge gaps in Raven’s jump training. Handling to protect bars or to ensure all the weavers get done or to ensure your dog hits that contact is completely restrictive and will never allow you to handle to your maximum best. So Spryte’s DW contacts will get a work out this week as will her weavers and some handling drills to extinguish this occasional occurrence and extremely irritating little behaviour she has of shooting off behind me from time to time.

Onto the State titles. The Agility Committee of the Canine Association of WA hosts the WA State Titles each year and this weekend the two qualifying trials took place Friday night and Saturday morning with the Finals being Saturday afternoon. Friday night was cold and windy but thankfully not very wet. Spryte was entered competitively in both Novice Agility and Novice Jumping. The older two were in their usual four runs. Spryte did a cracker run in Novice Agility (despite a very tempting contact just asking for her to shoot behind me at one stage of the course) yet I didn’t have enough faith in her for her weaves and my hesitation meant she halted in the weaves (after finding the entry beautifully) causing her to pop out. Her run in Novice Jumping was so smooth it went just how I planned and she came in clear with a 2nd place and a time 19 point something seconds. First leg of JD accomplished and spot in the Final!

Raven had Open Jumping first up and when she knocked a bar we withdrew. In Masters Agility she pulled out a full effort and we ran clear albeit with a few hairy moments, she came in 4th and thusly qualified for the Finals Saturday afternoon. Cypher was really disconnected in Open Jumping – it really seemed like he got halfway round the course and thought we had finished as he headed back towards the start gate! Not sure where his head was at there. Then In Masters Agility we were going great guns until I didn’t cue a turn soon enough and he pinged off over an off course jump. My fault entirely there – he went exactly where I told him! Open Agility and Raven was first in. She did a blinder of a run and the whole 28 seconds felt very smooth, she ended up with a clear round and a first place and a spot in the Final. Cypher was also switched on but had one bar down. We redeemed ourselves with Masters Jumping, quite a technical course and he ran clear in that one. Raven had a bar down in Masters Jumping which actually happened just before I got the course wrong and pulled her off the wrong jump. It is one of those rare occasions where you are actually grateful for a dropped bar.

Saturday morning was fresh and a little chilly, the grass definitely being a little slick till the sun came out fully. Spryte’s first run was in the Novice Agility and instead of handling like I had no worries in the world I got paranoid about the weavers and completely stuffed her up again. *Rolls eyes to heaven* yes I do sense a pattern. Of course every other part was perfect. No Novice Agility final for us! Raven was next up in Open Jumping and we were nearly home when she knocked the second last bar from the finish. Not happy! I did quite vocally express my disappointment when the bar dropped I must admit. Raven, who likes to give everyone who expresses such opinions the furry finger, obviously took it a little to heart because pretty soon we were in the Masters Agility ring and she didn’t put a paw wrong! Another clear round, very fast and I was over my little internal hissy fit on the OJ course. We humans are so mercurial. We ended up in 2nd place (less than half a second off first place and an Agility Champion leg ARGH!!!). Cypher missed the weave entry on that course, I’m pretty sure I stood in the wrong place but he did a really nice Open Jumping run and his Open Agility run was even better. That run earned him a spot in the Open Agility final due to dogs who had double qualified. In Masters Jumping Raven dropped a bar and this time we did withdraw, it wasn’t a bar that had any difficult angle on it and I was running quiet and without any confusion in my signals. Cypher decided that he really couldn’t pull off an inviting spread jump which DQ’d us but I finished the course anyway. Novice Jumping Spryte and I did a really sweet run together and she ran clear to win first place and gain her second leg of Novice Jumping title. I was extremely pleased with the run as everything went to plan.

That afternoon the finals were held and Novice Jumping was first up. I think there were about 8 dogs in the Final. Spryte and I ran the course clear with one slight glitch in direction towards the finish line but other than that smooth and clear. I think a couple of other dogs went clear but it turned out that Spryte’s time had won it. She was the State Novice Jumping Winner – not bad for a little pipsqueak! I was more than just a little proud of her performance over the two days – she handled the environment and the courses really well and seemed to enjoy herself as much as I did. She is certainly a little rocket to run.

Raven and I had a bash at the Masters Agility run but unfortunately I just didn’t get into the right spot on course and caused an off course into a wrong tunnel entry. Apart from this she handled the rest of the course well and was still rocketing through her contacts like she was as fresh as the morning.

Open Agility and it turned out to be a tricky entry onto the seesaw (multiple dogs getting refusals on it) and also the distance challenge turned out to be too difficult for some. My two had no problems with the distance challenge but both had seesaw entry issues.

And that was it – another State over and done with. A tiring but ultimately fun weekend – some of my runs felt really good, others not so much but most of all I was happy with Spryte’s first taste of a full on competition weekend. Raven is feeling really very good and it’s hard to believe I have to take her into Murdoch Tuesday for her chemo, to look at her you would never suspect the stuff she’s gone through. Her whiskers have grown back from when they all fell out at the conclusion of her last round of chemo. Now I wonder if these newly grown ones will disappear as time goes on. Hopefully after another couple of months this will all be over for good.

2008 WA State Novice Jumping Winner –
Winpara Out of Sight HT – Spryte (20 months old)

Cypher has a win in the rain…

and other dog related updates.

So when I last updated I had explained about the process/procedure for our attack on Raven’s lymphoma. A few things have passed since then. First of all the Gosnells Agility trial on Saturday the 22nd. It was a good night in terms of passes and runs, Cypher ran clear in three out of four runs picking up a 4th in Masters Jumping, a 3rd in Open Agility and a 6th in Open Jumping. In Masters Agility I just didn’t step in quick enough to pull him in tighter to the weaves and he went in the second gap, other than that I was very happy with his run on what was one of the more challenging Masters courses for a while.
Raven also had a good night although I must admit she must have been feeling a little less then a 100% because she held every start line as long as I needed her to and she didn’t knock a single bar all night. She picked up a 2nd place in Masters Jumping to the awesome Domino, and a 3rd in Open Jumping. I stuffed her up in Open Agility and Masters Agility, again with a slow reaction to an imminent and then completed off course into a tyre in Masters and then with a confusing cue for a direction over a jump causing her to back jump it.
Spryte also had a ball, we had one glitch in Novice Jumping with a lollipop tyre she wasn’t sure really was a tyre, in Agility we redid the weave poles and had a refusal, and in Open Jumping we ran over the line and she had a blast finishing down a long line of jumps without me.

So then to Tuesday and Raven’s 2nd chemo treatment, her WBC was 1.6 so it is still low but they went ahead and she didn’t seem to have any of the problems that she did last time with the vomiting and loose stools. I did up the fibre in her diet though. Her nodes were reported as having reduced in size already which was heartening.

This week she had her 3rd treatment (the 2nd dose of Vincristine that is in her four week cycle) and although her WBC was still low at 1.7 they still gave her the treatment. She bounced back from that very well without any side effects and they told me that all her nodes were back to normal. So clincially she is in remission now, we’ll check her cytological (cellular) status at a later point closer to the BMT. She now just needs to weather through the next five treatments before the big day of the Bone Marrow extraction. She must be feeling quite well because she pushed me on her start lines all day yesterday and had bars down in four of her runs and in Masters Snooker where she kept all bars up she missed an a frame contact! Can’t remember the last time that happened…but I was very happy with her run regardless as she made the time with 5 seconds to spare even doing the most points out of all the dogs there.

And here we are at week 4 just about with treatment number 4, the doxyrubicin. This is the one that causes heart muscle damage so it’s pretty nasty. From what I can recall of her last treatments (she’s had 4 doses so far) she came through them ok. So fingers and paws crossed for this one.

Cypher had a good day at the trial yesterday. He finally went clear in Masters Agility (ADM passes and Cypher have been like a barren wasteland), knocked a couple of bars in Open Agility, knocked one bar in Open Jumping and was clear in Masters Jumping till his handler had a brain fart on course and completely lost her way. I redeemed myself in Excellent Snooker handling him for a win there. It really is one of my pet hates though…losing my way on course. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it drives me up the wall. And this is me who has improved at learning to *let things go* like that. *g*

Spryte was an absolute blast to run yesterday. It would appear that the rain just makes things that bit more exciting. She was in NFC for everything and ran clear in Novice Jumping. In Open Jumping we reestablished that our rear cross language needs much work but she did the distance challenge which wasn’t a simple one so I was very chuffed about that, we also took the opportunity to run our weavers again after she missed one (I have no idea which one). In Novice Agility she popped the last weaver and we reinforced that contact position on the dogwalk is still two on two off, not four in the colour looking angelic. She’s really starting to open up and I’m enjoying watching that. I can see at each trial she gets that little bit more bolder and creative and whilst I know I need to balance that out with reinforcing self control I don’t believe letting her have some leeway with this will harm, in fact I think it will have the opposite effect and allow our training to progress faster. Some photos from yesterday’s rained out trial.




Yes it is a good thing there are no penalties for dog abuse of handler,
did I mention she *hates* stopping?

But she’s a good girl really *g*

The Bounce Jump

This here is a canvas I made in Adobe Photoshop. Why? Well A It shows the bounce jump done to perfection; B I’m impressed Tim managed to capture this sequence given it was pouring with rain and C I just love photos of dogs using their bodies with such athleticism and power.
This is Domino, a 600 BC who is owned by Gina O’Keefe and Liz Alcock, trained and handled by Gina. Click for the full size