Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guilty Guilty Guilty

Maggie is having a serious guilt attack this morning and won't look at me. But you'll never believe why she is feeling so bad. "Someone" got into the trash last night. Not Maggie... Mopsy and/or Jake did it... but they are not the least bit bothered. Maggie is feeling bad because she couldn't stop them. Okay, I know you are wondering how I know all this, but believe me, we've had this for years.

The first time Maggie was about 18 months old and she would not settle down for the night. For hours she paced, whined, scratched to get out... and we tried everything to settle her down. Finally, I went outside thinking she was getting sick, and she ran right to the back gate that was standing open. I shut it and you could hear her sigh and she ran inside and went to bed. She couldn't sleep with the gate open! That summer we realized that we could leave the gate open while she was outside because she would not let the other two cross out of the yard.

If I leave a cabinet door ajar, she will stand guard and prevent the two ruffians from going on a midnight raid. When we leave the house we put a baby gate across the spare bedroom and leave them there. However, if Maggie leaves with us, the other two easily jump the short gate that holds them when Maggie is home. Bottom line, she has taken it upon herself to be the babysitter for the other two, and they don't make it easy for her.

Somehow last night the other two got a few pieces of trash out of the can before she was able to end their party and she is curled up in the back of my closet and doesn't want to come out. The only way to perk her up is to get her back to work so I think I'll put some cheese in the trash and encourage the brats to try to get it out. She won't let it happen twice in the same day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not this weekend!

Yikes, I don't remember when we've had a worse agility trial. I keep trying to remind myself that it isn't easy and that you can't expect to win all the time, but we are sort of spoiled and this was hard to take. The courses were exceptionally difficult for dogs with long strides... this judge shows toy breeds and it was obvious in his courses. As usual, Maggie and I were able to do all the really hard things in the courses but then would make one itty, bitty, tiny mistake that would cost us our Q. You know what I don't understand? Why is it that we take 19 obstacles perfectly and make one mistake? Why can't we run the entire course perfectly for 19 trials and then have one where we mess up everything? It would still be the same percentage of mistakes...
But, on a happier note, I did get to spend the weekend with Sarah at her apartment, and we went to doggy restaurants and the dog park and had a great time despite our disappointing performace in the ring. And of course, ribbons or not, spending time with our dog friends is always a winner!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do you know what time it is?

... Time to hit the road!!!

Maggie and I are off for an agility show. This weekend we are in Columbia, so we not only get to have fun in the agility ring, but we get to visit Sarah. We are so excited! I'll try to log on to the web over the weekend for updates. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


If you've never played with JibJab (, for the sake of getting anything done today, DON'T. I could play with this for hours... I've even uploaded my dog's photos and watched them dance together.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Susan Boyle

To any of you that have been living under a rock for the last week: if you have not already seen the Britain's Got Talent contestant, Susan Boyle, stop what you are doing at this instant and go watch her youtube video. Go listen right now. I'll wait.
Here is the link:

Okay, did that bring tears to your eyes or what? It reminds me of Paul Pots from a few years ago, also on Britain's Got Talent. He stands up before the judges, rumpled, with crooked teeth, a cellular phone salesman and says he wants to sing opera. The performance was nearly as shocking. Paul Potts is making megabucks these days touring the world, singing opera... still has crooked teeth though. I wonder how much Susan Boyle will change...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Air Maggie!

This month's Clean Run (magazine devoted to agility) had an article about "bar suck." This is a theoretical phenomenon usually associated with border collies. The theory is that BCs shape their bodies much like an airplane wing when they jump, creating a vacuum under their body which will actually lift the jump and displace it, without touching it. Sounds incredible, but careful testing has shown that they do indeed produce enough of a vacuum to do this, and the article went on to suggest that handlers can put hair gel on the dog's underside to break up the air flow and disrupt the lift. I've never actually seen Maggie "suck" a bar, perhaps because she jumps WAY higher than is necessary. [note to my family engineers, what do you think? possible? or something for Mythbusters?]
I thought I would take a close look at a recent run to see if I could recognize any of the things the article talked about (I didn't). But I did notice something else... that Maggie takes off the ground an incredible distance from the jump. In fact, I reviewed the course map (which has a measurement grid) and estimate that it was about 16 to 18 feet from takeoff to landing on the jump after the 2nd tunnel. No wonder is seems like she's flying... she is!
But before you watch, one disclaimer... this is not a run to brag about. My bad cues just before the 2nd tunnel could easily have cost us a qualification, and certainly cost us at least a couple seconds. But, a Q is a Q, and even with the lost seconds, we still took 1st place!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Addie's wipeout

as promised... here is Addie's faceplant. Don't worry, she's fine, but she does have a little spot of missing hair. This is what happens when Addie goes from 0-60 and then has to make a quick turn! Notice that it takes her mom a few seconds to recover as well...

Running styles

Our friend Addie is big muscular Weimaraner that runs agility with us. Compared to Maggie, she always looks like she is taking her time on the agility course, but suprisingly enough, her times and Maggie's are always within seconds of one another. While Maggie is taking her small fast steps and quick turns, Addie takes huge ground eating strides that propel her big body at a deceptive pace. Of course this places an extra burden on her handler who has to time her commands perfectly, giving Addie time to slow down enough to make a turn without a wipeout. (speaking of which, I have a wipeout video of Addie I'll try to find and post later this week). At any rate, here is an example of Addie with a blue ribbon (1st place) run where she is running fast, but not border-collie-crazy-fast... nevertheless, her time beat some of those crazy border collies...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


1: the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms
2: a cooperative relationship as between two persons or groups

A few days ago I mentioned that some of the dog/handler teams work together so well that they almost seem to be reading one another's minds. I was thinking of AussieK9 (AK9) when I was typing that, but the more I thought about it, it wasn't quite right. When AK9 runs her dogs, it is almost like the two of them are alone out there running for pure pleasure and the rest of us are spying on their world. Whether or not they qualify, it makes no difference... they are there for the joy of being together, facing a challange, and celebrating the results-whatever that might be. Maggie and I have learned a lot from AK9 in the past year... and not just about agility. She reminds us why we chose to do agility in the first place-to have fun. But most of all she reminds us to forget about the ribbons and the points and to celebrate the joy of being there with our friends... 2 footed and 4 footed.
Thanks AK9!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Green Ribbons

For those of you that are not into agility, you may wonder about the title of my April banner... "Will April Showers Bring Green Ribbons?" Like most sports, agility has place winners (1st, 2nd etc). The first 4 places are awarded ribbons-usually rosettes-in Blue, Red, Yellow and White respectively. However, unlike most sports, any dog that qualifies is awarded a green ribbon, regardless of what place they are in. The required performance to qualify varies accounding the level of competition that the dog is in. In Excellent agility (which is where we are) you must have no errors and complete the course within the given time. There are a lot of ways to make an error, including getting off course, knocking a bar or hesitating before completing the obstacle. To determine the time needed to complete the course, the judge measures it and has a formula for how many yards per second the dog will get. Fortunately for us, making time is never the issue... it is the "errors" that keep us from winning the green ribbon. Almost always it is me underestimating the time it takes for Maggie to get somewhere and she jumps the wrong jump because I'm running behind, sucking for oxygen and I don't tell her to make the change until it is too late.
While the placement ribbons are nice (especially the blue ones) it is the all-important green one that counts toward titles.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Trace Adkins- Until the Last Shot's Fired

If you have not already seen/heard this song, please take the time to do so. If you are as moved as I was, please download it from iTunes or make a donation directly to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Whether or not you are a country music fan, you really must listen to this.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AussieK9s Wins!

For those of you that have been following the contest, you have seen AussieK9s strategic matching and adjusting as she has been scrambling to win that cold beer from LottaWatta. Tonight she made the final adjustment to her entry and put everyone else out of their misery. Here are the correct answers:

1. Mopsy
2. Maggie
3. Maggie
4. Maggie
5. Jake
6. Jake
7. Jake
8. Maggie
9. Mopsy
10. Jake
11. Mopsy
12. Mopsy (this is an old photo, hence the clear eyes)
13. Maggie

It's funny how much a cold beer and some stuffed mushrooms can motivate some people....

Congratulations C! I'll see that you get your gift certificate this weekend!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary Maggie!

This weekend marks our first year competing in agility. Our first show was on April 11, 2008 and it was a trial I will never forget. That weekend we scored three first place finishes in a row, giving Maggie her Novice A Standard title in one weekend. Wow, that would be hard to beat. We stayed in Novice for a while without moving up, just to gain experience, and we struggled a little with the Jumpers courses (okay, I don't know if struggle is accurate, we didn't ALWAYS qualify, I'm not sure that really counts as a struggle.) We moved into Open agility and began to see little gaps in our training and went back to close the gaps. During all this time we continued to watch the Excellent agility ring and dream of a day that we would be there, competing with the "big dogs." We picked out our favorite teams and watched them compete... and when possible, we watched them train. We stood in awe of those teams that worked in perfect synchrony... appearing to read each other's mind. Maggie tugged at the end of her leash to join the fun when the really fast dogs ran and I wondered what it would be like to run a dog like that... finishing entire courses in a mere 25 seconds. And most of all, we watched our friends, who, like us, pretty consistantly Q'd (qualified) and we all slowly climbed our way through the ranks, from Novice to Open to Excellent A to Excellent B. And now, after only one year, we are competing against, and sometimes winning against, the "big dogs." Maggie has become one of the dogs that the Novice students watch and wonder what it would be like to run a dog that finishes a course in 25 seconds. And while we don't always Q, when we do, it is always among the very fastest. The people that we once stood in awe of, and watched from the sidelines, now stand and watch us. When we Q, they cheer for us and when we have a refusal or a knocked bar, their collective groan from the sideline reminds us that we have gained a lot more in the last year than ribbons. We've gained experience, we gained friends, and we've gained respect from a lot of really exceptional handlers. What more could we ask for?

Happy Anniversary Maggie-Mae. I love you.