Thursday, March 29, 2012


I have that song by metallica, Master of puppets going through my head.  MASTER, MASTER!  I fo sho got mastered this weekend.  First weekend full of master's courses and I felt like a fish out of water.  So weird because I did masters or P3 classes for years with Miller so it isn't like I have seen these challenges before.  This is why i love USDAA though.  The courses are really hard, very detailed and have a little international flair to them.  There is no just getting through them safely, you have to run them and run them right or you have no chance.  Anyway, I was a little worried because I have hit my third trimester and I am starting to get very uncomfortable.  For whatever reason, I felt perfectly fine running but all the other stuff was the part that sucked.  The sitting and waiting, the staying in the hotel, the not being able to get comfortable in the hotel bed.  Luckily mom and I and Barb traveled together and we all get along great and there is 0 stress so that part was out of the picture.  Had my heating pad but really didn't even need it.  So, deciding to go ahead and enter a show in may and see what happens.  Not traveling to Omaha, just going to enter the KC one that is 2 hours away and can pull if needed when it gets closer.

I think the biggest problem I had this weekend, other than deuce slipping a little was me not being able to get to where i needed to be or my brain quitting.  I literally stepped to the line in steeplechase and my brain quit.  I totally forgot what I was going to do on this tough line and I f'ed it up something big time.  Tried to do two front crosses when I had no chance in hell in getting them in.  Did the first one in the totally wrong place and then should have aborted to a rear as I was out of place but didn't and he missed a jump.  BOOO!  Needed that Q for regionals, oh well.  No steeplechase for nationals unless I drag me and a newborn baby back to St. Louis in July and try again or ship him with someone.  Deuce slipped in gamblers and the gamble was a weave gamble so he missed a pole:(  He did come in and not take the last jump too so we probably wouldn't have gotten it even if he wouldn't have missed the pole.   I was just proud i got him in the gamble successfully since there was an off course tunnel and they had to be somewhat collected to not take that tunnel and come back and get the next jump before the weaves.  Standard was next and we had a little foul up right at the beginning.  He didn't totally collect at the start so had a wide turn and then when I did my next front cross, he saw the weaves and looped out to them rather than coming in on my front cross.  Dang 2 x 2s again makes him want weaves more than anything else.  Oh well, i will take it.  Then he slipped again going into the poles and I had to restart him twice.  The rest of the run was of course PERFECT with him listening, having great contacts and even got a blind cross in after the a-frame.  I was happy that we recovered because he tends to stress when I do anything with his weaves.  I came off the course not knowing if he wasn't trying to get the weaves or what.  I think what was happening was I was taking him out prior to running him and it was raining and his feet were getting wet and then he was having trouble gripping the turf but that is our routine, him go pee on something, come in and run and I don't want him peeing on something in the ring LOL.

Pairs was next and we were teamed with another red merle aussie.  We had named our team Red Magic:)  We actually got a Q, even with Deuce missing the entry on his weaves and bailey knocking a bar.  I think we were one second under the standard course time LOL.  This was the only Q we got all weekend so I guess one pairs Q down, four to go.

Jumpers was last and my brain was blown.  Did a FC and took the back side of a jump instead of the correct side.  Made it harder.  BLEh.  Then took the wrong end of a tunnel on a very tough line where he had to pull and then flip to the other end.  BLEh.  Finished well again but hate ending on a low note.

Day 2 had fewer runs which was probably a good thing.  Jumpers, snooker and standard and not as long of a day but still a 6 hour drive to get back home.  My brain again just wasn't in it and my body wasn't cooperating either.  Started with jumpers and he was real loopy.  Any time we would be running toward the start of finish, I seem to loose him.  He would just head to the exit like he thought we were done, even though I was running laterally the other way.  I think he was a little stressed because it was one of those super tough courses where you needed to have complete focus and there really wasn't a ton of room to just let them run.  So it could have been a stress thing.  He was still clean coming to the end despite loosing his focus a couple of times and then ran around a jump.  I am kind of glad he didn't Q because it was not a good run.  Very reactive, very loopy and not what I want from him or me.  Snooker was next and I had what I thought was a decent plan with two sixes and a 7.  Well, got the first one and a six and he back jumped the second part of the six combo.  I had planned on turning him to the right and then at the last minute put in a rear cross but he was already committed to turning to the right so floated back and took what was between him and i.  Totally my fault, should have stayed committed to turning him to the right.  Tweet done, majorly mad at myself.  I usually do well in snooker:(

Standard was the last run and I thought it was a great course, hard but tons of challenges.  We had this crazy line that went all the way down the arena and needed two rears to get it correctly.  Well, I said the famous word of go to get him over a jump and he went so far that he lined up with the dang weaves again so he looped towards them and by the time I got him back, he was past a jump.  DANG it!

Here is a video link to most of the runs or at least their parts LOL

Had running with the devil on as the soundtrack but neither he nor i nor andrew fit the devil part:)  I was behind most runs thanks to my ginormous belly but we had fun, learned a lot and will be doing more and more rear crosses as this pregnancy progresses.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Agility goodness

SO nice after a dry spell of no training or very little to have several weekends of training.  Joc's class is alot of fun and we are getting lots of good training time out of it.  Running on dirt is so different than running on flat grass so good to get on different surfaces.  Yesterday was snooker day to get us ready for this weekend.  Last USDAA show before the baby and before regionals.  One last shot at steeplechase.  I am okay if we don't get it since if we go to nationals, doing team and grand prix will probably be more than enough.  Of course that is a big IF.  IF i don't loose my job, IF I can handle going with a wittle baby, IF mom can come out yet again and go with.  May be a good year to just sit out and let deuce mature and let everything else settle in to place.  Also did some international courses with Deuce.   Lori had some set ups that were a ton of fun and a TON of running.  Let's just say running is getting pretty hard for me at this point.  I huff and puff and try and bark out commands while trying to get to where I need to be.  This weekend will be very, very interesting to say the least.  I just feel like I can't get to where i need to be.  I feel like this week I have really gotten bigger too.  The pregnancy book says my uterus is the size of a basketball right now and I believe it.  I feel like I am carrying a bowling ball in my belly or maybe a watermelon!  For those of you not on FB, here is a belly pic.  I feel like a whale!  I am entered in USDAA this weekend and then two more shows, one of which is a four day.  HELP ME!  If you see me after a run, might want to bring me oxygen.  I seriously don't know how all of these mommas do it and then give birth like a day or too after their last run.  I am thinking at this point I will be lucky to get through april.

Also had our first lesson with stella to start the running contact process.  She was very distracted (it was very windy and very hot in her defense) and really wasn't running to her toy or her target.  Kind of hard to work on a "running" contact when your dog isn't running.  Anyway, got lots of homework and lots of tips on what to look for eventually so am going to do homework this week and video sessions and go from there. Of course I took her to Joc's place and worked on her running to her targets there in the barn and she was running like a crazy woman.  Even brought the plank back and she was flying over it.  Joc's plank is painted and sanding so her footing was better and we used some gates to help her but I think we will be able to fade those gates fairly quickly.  We worked on her running with me, running past me, me restraining her, running and me clicking and her still going to her target and she was so good.  GRRR, why couldn't you do that when Lori was watching LOL!   Now we need to work all of these things with the toy as well.  She is a big toy dog but for whatever reason, when it is a dead toy, it isn't as interesting. I know this process is going to take a long time and I am excited to go through it.  I think Stella will probably not show for quite a while with the baby joining us and my focus being on deuce anyway so we have a ton of time to perfect alot of stuff!

Friday, March 16, 2012

weekend work

So EXCITED!  We are suppose to have beautiful weather and Lori is coming home for a weekend of lessons.  I so need this right now.  I just downloaded the Ebook for the WAO and have started working through the exercises.  Lots of great stuff.  I am one of those that likes to read and do and read and do.  would go crazy if I tried to read the whole thing and not do as I read.  I also just bought the mary ellen barry dvd on broad jumps and am looking to purchase a sturdy broad jump.  I need to help deuce and figure out why he crashes them when it is not a straight in and out approach.  I know we don't train it enough but it needs to be part of our training from now on.  Stella is going to start her journey with running contacts this weekend and I hope with this baby due in June that I can get through the first part of training before I have to take much time off.  She has finally shown me the body control she needs for this so I am excited to see what this brings.  I wasn't really successful in teaching Deuce a running a-frame but I feel more educated now and more ready to give this 100%.

On another more solemn note, we found out this week that our lab did not receive funding on this cycle.  Our grant was denied.  I have very mixed feelings.  We have enough money if we unload practically everyone to keep me around till december.  This means two part time techs are being let go(one has been here 20+ years and one just had a baby and has three kids at home) and two grad students are being turned over to the school.  I think they will continue to get to do research in our lab, but their salaries will come from the school and not the remaining grant money.  One part of me wants to panic and scream why.  Why has all of this bad stuff being happening to me since like October?  But the other part of me says God has a plan, I just have to sit back and relax and let him guide me.  I do have a job opportunity but it would be now and I am not sure that I need something right now.  It would be teaching at a tech college which i would enjoy, but alot of prep work for that first year that I may or may not be able to do with a new born baby.  After much thought and consideration and prayer, I have decided to pass on this.  I hope that I am not dead wrong in doing so.  My boss is going to resubmit the grant with more revisions and rework and me and the remaining grad student will probably have to learn lots of new techniques to get up to speed with the rest of the world i guess.  We are one of very few labs that do what we do so we are pretty unique in our protocals and procedures but we can join the main stream on some things which should help funding wise.

Once again as is with the baby coming, I am left with alot of not sures in my life.  Not sure if I can continue to show, to teach, to do the sport I love, but I am determined and where there is a will there is a way:)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

very random

Man, it really hit me last night how much having a baby is going to change things.  I am teaching two nights a week right now to get in one last big session of classes before I am out on maternity leave.  On monday night, I just hung out at work (actually working:) until right before class and then drove out to the field.  We had set up the course already so I just needed to walk it to find the tricky spots.  Last night I managed to get out of work at 4 so was able to drive home, clean the back yard, have dinner and drive back in plenty of time.  I even stayed out at the field till almost 9:30 just talking to students and to alice.    When the baby comes, I have no clue how I am going to be able to do these things and that scares me.  I have so many great students who are on the brink of starting the competition careers and I don't want to just leave them in a lurch.  If i breast feed, I will pump but is this going to be enough so that I can stay gone say two nights a week?  I know before I start teaching again that I will have a schedule worked out, knowing how anal I am about everything so I know I will be better prepared after the baby comes, but right now thinking about all of this scares the hell out of me.

Enough whining:)  I am taking my first private lesson to start the running contact journey with stella.  While I have never had an aussie I thought could handle running contacts, I do feel that Stella has the best chance at being successful.  I just am a little nervous about screwing any of the steps up and oh yeah, I don't have a dog walk in my backyard to practice with.  Am hoping to go to Tulsa next year and buy one there from one of the rings like I did my a frame since that was such a great buy.   For now we will probably just have planks at home and then she will have to go with me every time I go out to the field and I will just have to deal with the screaming.  She has a great two on two off on the teeter so I know if I have to change over that we have it to use but I really would like to have one dog trained on running on everything.  Now to sit on my hands about weave poles.  I really, really am excited to try the 2 x 2 method with her and it is taking every inch of me not to sneak out and start:)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

slow day at work

So it is a very slow day at work and I have been reading all the blog posts today about the topic "If I knew then what I know now".  It is has been so much fun reading about trainers reminiscing about their start in dog sports whether it be in agility or in obedience.  Takes me back to when I started, about 10 years ago.  I was just a grad student with a dog and a horse when I was introduced into the world of agility.  Back then safety was not in the front of everyone's mind so dogs were jumped full height and usually on not the safest of surfaces.  I have heard many stories of agility trials in parking lots jumping 26 inches or higher which is a scary thought now.  Most equipment was homemade and the best we could do at the time and shaping, what the heck is shaping?

When I started, all we had was the local kennel club that met in a small room that was of course matted concrete, but we aren't talking those nice cushy agility mats, we are talking thin green obedience mats.  Our equipment of course was homemade and scary if best.  I can still remember the little rickety mini teeter that had two giant metal poles sticking up on either side at the pivot point.  We didn't know anything about the bang game or plank work, we simply took our poor dogs and drug them across the teeter as it slammed to the matted concrete.  If the dog was fearful, stick a cookie in their face and drag them over again and again.  One time berry managed to wrestle herself free from my grip and stabbed herself on one of those dang metal posts and then refused to even look at a teeter for like 6 months.  I also remember teaching weaves.  We didn't have channels or WAMS or anything that made sense to the dog.  We simply put a cookie in their face and lured them through, step stepping all the way through, not really weaving.  Remember sticking your hands through the  poles to mimic having a cookie in your hand in a trial?  I do!

And contact criteria, what the heck was that?  Two on two off was just becoming in vogue when I started miller.  Berry was just taught to go, go, go and I prayed that she got some part of her in the contact zone.  At the time I started Miller,  we simply put a target at the end of the contact with a cookie, showed them the target prior to them getting on the contact and then expected them to run the full contact and stop at the bottom  (as we were screaming bottom) and get the cookie.  Remember what happened when that target was faded away?  Usually the dog forgot all about stopping which resorted to us screaming even louder BOTTOM and sometimes frantic pointing.  One of my favorite pictures I have of miller is at a show, jumping over my pointed finger with a big grin on his face.  It wasn't until I taught him what the heck bottom meant separate from the contact that he even got the slightest clue.

I also remember the first time I was taught what a cross was.  Previously i resorted to all rear crosses(didn't even know at that time those had a name), which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't because berry really didn't have a great concept of go ahead of me.  I have many videos of me running up to a jump and stopping and her putting on the brakes too and stopping before the jump.  I took a seminar with Lori Michaels on the concepts of crosses and thought I had been dropped into a country with a foreign language.  Fronts, blinds and rears?  What the heck?  And systems, what are those?

my first agility dog berry
Anyway it was a long fun journey and I am glad that I took it even with all the mistakes.  I have met some of the best friends I have in the whole world thanks to agility.  Now that I embark on this journey with my 5th agility dog, I have come so far in the methods I use for training.  No more dragging and luring, we shape and reward.  No more praying that they understand what the heck we mean, we are clear and do foundation work prior to ever getting on the equipment.  We teach our dogs how to fail and how to deal with it.  How to be thinkers and how to problem solve.  We treat our dogs like athletes and stretch them and take them to chiropractors and massage therapy when they are ouchy.  I don't regret any part of the past but dang sure am glad we know what we know now and train the way we do now!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I made it!

Whew, made it through the weekend.  Ran deuce 8 times and miss dixie 5 times this weekend.  Only two Qs for Deuce, one in Time 2 Beat and one in standard but man we had some really awesome runs.  I am so proud of how we worked as a team this weekend!!!!  I was not reactive handling AT ALL!  I really felt like we clicked this weekend and can't wait till the next show.  I was very careful to minimize how much I walked the courses and then as soon as i was done running, walked a bit and then sat my big butt in chair and propped my feet up.  We also headed back to the hotel after running and I got on the heating pad for my back so my soreness was to a minimum.  I wore my belly band all day and that helped me so much.  I still waddled a little bit but not too bad.  I am so glad I was in shape before getting preggers because I can really tell it is helping me now, even though I can't really exercise as much as i want to.

Not going to do a play by play of all of my runs but the biggest negatives were the weird mistakes but usually only one per run.  Had one standard course that he was just nailing and came to the end which was a box type situation.  Even though I was running and pulling, he once again flicked off and took the off course part of the box.  So weird as nothing I was doing or saying said go out and take that jump.   He even had to change leads to get it.  Today he ran past the chute.  I know I was telling him chute but he acted like he didn't even see it.  I think I stressed him out though previous to the chute because he wouldn't go down on the table.  I guess i should have picked my battles wisely and not made him go down but I have USDAA in a few weeks and need to have a down on the table.  Anyway, we did a nice pin wheel and he seemed okay but just ran right past the chute which was next and the only obstacle there.  Guess it was a stress response?  He also didn't send out to a jump in JWW but I was worried about saying out or go because there was on off course jump just calling his name so I put my arm out but pivoted to get to where I needed to go and he just came with.  Today in jumpers he needed to go out and so I said go and went to get in position and he went, so much so that after he got that jump he kept on going and missed the next jump.  Totally still finding that balance of sending and going and coming back and all that jazz.  When to tell him to go, when to keep supporting and when not to.

The good news was again, no reactive handling.  I may have been late on a command or sloppy on some of my handling but i sure wasn't running the courses screaming here or come or DEUCE.  Most of his JWW runs were in the 6.0 YPS so I know he was booking.  He did test me on his dog walk some this weekend so that cost us a couple of places in standard on friday but I need good contacts so if we have to hold them a second or two, I am at peace with that.  His weave poles were PHENOMENAL this weekend!!!!!  He had one entry that he got but he popped out because i showed no decel to help him but he was coming out of a short curved tunnel and I needed to be ahead of him so I was rushing to get there and couldn't decel quick enough to help him collect and slow up a bit.  He was a good boy to even get in the entry.

We have three shows left before I have to bow out for the baby for a bit.  USDAA is in a couple of weeks, then a four day AKC trial and  three day AKC trial.  I am really, really hoping that I can just take a few months off and then get back into it.  I really still want to go to tulsa and feel like we are SO close to getting those double Qs.  I hate that i am missing so many great shows but two shows a month has been better on my pocket book and I think that will probably be all I can afford when the baby comes anyway.  I just hope i can continue teaching and I can continue showing.  I love this feeling of being one with Deuce on the course and want to continue it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Everyday I'm Waddling (sang to the tune of LMFAO Party Rock)

Getting excited for the weekend but scared too.  Running 3 runs a day x 2 dogs so hoping my back and body can handle it.  Will spend alot of time sitting which will be very hard for me to do.  No course building no helping unless I can scribe or time where i can sit all day.  Taking the heating pad and my belly bands.  May even double belly band if it helps.  I am determined to do this till I am too uncomfortable to run.  I weighed myself this morning and was happy that so far, I have only gained 18 lbs.  I have a feeling this is going to increase very, very soon.  I feel huge though, already feel like I am waddling.  I still am parking really far away and walking but i can tell it affects me as I get huge stitches in my side if I don't have my belly band on and I have to walk very slow which is so not me.  I am one of the fastest walking people you will ever meet.  I think it is because I am 5 foot tall so I have to practically run to keep up with anyone.  Walking slow is so hard but it hurts to walk too fast so I guess I'd better get in practice.  Need to pack tonight and get the car ready to head out.  Sharing a hotel room but driving separate.  Looking forward to eating some yummy cracker barrel and hopefully making it three days, 6 runs a day!