Sunday, July 26, 2009

Four days of agility...

Greater St. Louis Agility Club and Gateway Agility Club held 2 day agility trials back-to-back Thursday thru today (Sunday). Four days of agility has taken its toll on me and I'm beat. Just getting the car unloaded was a challenge. The knee gave me trouble, but all in all, it was a good four days. We got four Q's in four days, two of them on Friday for a precious DblQ , (Saturday was a bust). Maggie has done a good job of adjusting her speed to allow me to keep up without running, and she has been doing a great job of racing way out for far jumps while I hobble along a shorter path. So even with the handicap, we still picked up a couple placement ribbons, a new title (MX) and another 50 or so MACH points.
Speaking of which, you can tell the people with the slower dogs that really struggle for MACH points because they can tell you at any time EXACTLY how many they have. Maggie will never want for MACH points, we'll be fighting for those Double Qs. So when people ask "how many points do you have?" it surprises some of them when I say, "I don't know 300... 350." They can't believe that I don't really know.
We did get to see a couple of our fellow handlers earn MACH championships this weekend. One of them did something that I've never seen before and it brought tears to a lot of eyes. Normally when a team earns their MACH, they turn back to the last jump, remove the top bar and take a celebration run through the course. But before this handler did that, she turned to her dog, fell to her knees and gave him a big hug. She gained a lot of respect from me after she did that- and it makes me sort of sad that everyone doesn't congratulate their teammate first. Congratulations Debbie and Forest... you deserve that MACH and you looked like Champions today!
Anyway, I took a lot of video this weekend, and I'll try to get some of it loaded to youtube this week. I videotaped some really top notch handlers- some of their runs worked out and others didn't- but either way there is a lot to be learned by watching other teams. But for now, I'm going to go to sleep...ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nothing about dogs...

At a family picnic this weekend, I asked my brother if he read my blog. "No" he said, "I don't want to read stuff about your dumb dogs." My immediate reaction was to stab him with my plastic fork, but instead, I thought about it and realized that I didn't really put much in my blog besides dog stuff. So, for today, I'm posting photos of my family from this past weekend.

At first glance, they look normal enough, but looks can be deceiving. This is my brother Jim, the one who is not interested in dog stuff. He is what you call an "intellectual."

This is my other brother, Gene. We were at his house in Jefferson County for his birthday. Which reminds me, did you know that the toothbrush was invented in Jefferson County? Otherwise, it would be known as a "teethbrush."

It was nice to see the cousin/kids again... we had not seen them in a few months. Thankfully, their dandruff and psoriasis seems to be better than it was then.

Any boy oh boy, those Crest Magic Whitestrips really seem to be doing a job on their teeth. Yessiree, it won't be long and those green teeth will be a thing of the past.

And cousin K was having a good time as usual. One of these days we'll have to tell her to take her shirt off before she puts her swimsuit on, but since her bikini top falls off pretty easily, we'll probably let her keep the shirt on for a while.

Well, that just about does it. Jim, I hope you are happy that I wrote about you and our family in my blog instead of my "stupid" dogs. You know, there is a lot more to talk about when I write about the family, in fact, I still have about 100 pictures just from this weekend. So who knows... maybe I'll post a few more of you...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others...

... cannot keep it from themselves. ~James Barrie

When I wrote the post about Jake and his infatuation with sunshine (see it here) I didn't realize that it was only part one of a two part story. Today when I was mowing, I realized that Jake had spread his sunshine all over the backyard (with the help of the mower). And that's about all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We're back.

This past weekend was Maggie and my return to agility competition since my RIGHT knee injury. (I had my left one fixed last winter). We had two decent runs on Saturday, but no Q's. The judge set up some really challenging combinations, and the courses were fun, but there were few qualifiers. Sunday's courses were much the same, but with 1000 mg of ibuprofen under my belt I was better prepared. Here is the standard run... listen for Chris' comment at the tunnel where Maggie locked onto the wrong tunnel entrance and I was able to pull her off at the last minute.

You will notice that there is no corresponding video for the Jumpers course... we made it through to the last jump flawlessly and then Maggie went around the last jump instead of over. I think I was already seeing that dbl Q instead of focusing on the last jump. Oh well... Q or no, I am SO happy to be out on the field with my big girl again.

Ain't No Sunshine When He's Done....

Maggie and I had our first agility show in a long while this past weekend. We did okay, but that's a story for tomorrow.
Most agility shows give away inexpensive dog toys- some give a toy for every Q, some give away one toy per weekend, and this trial was no exception. Apparently the Zanies brand gives the clubs a good deal because we see more of that brand of toy than any other. And recently we have seen a lot of toys that look like the sun, the moon, or a star. These have been particularly popular at our house.... especially the sun.

When it first arrives home, any new toy is subjected to some pretty serious testing and the tug test is always one of the most rigorous. Fortunately for this toy there is no way to get a really good bite onto it, so it survived tugging. But wihin a few minutes of testing, Maggie loses interest in the toy and gives it up to Jake. Jake is wihout a doubt, harder on toys than any dog I've ever known. Most squeeky toys have their plastic sqeeker punctured and their fiberfill guts spread all over the living room within minutes.
The one exception to this is the Zanies sunshines. He unstuffs the moons and stars, but the sunshines are reserved for a different torture.... ray amputation. As soon as he wrestles it from Maggie, he runs off to hide and secretely begins removing all rays of sun. In fact, in the dozens of suns he has performed amputation on, this is the first time I've caught him in the act. I always thought that he tore them off because it was so fast, but here he is using his teeth like scissors and snip, snip, gulp... no more ray.

There have been a few other toys that he likes to remove appendages from (bows, tags, ears, tails) but nothing with the enthusiasm that he has for removing the rays of sun.
He usually manages to remove every last ray within 2 to 3 minutes and then the sunshine is discarded, never to be played with again-squeeker working and polyfill guts still intact.

It is one of those things that makes me wish I could talk to him. Is he vitamin D deficient? Is he afraid someone will poke their eye on them? Is it like a zit that just must go! Maybe he doesn't like sunshine...I don't know, but I wish I did.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Once, there were two... Jake's story

Maggie was our first rescue dog. We got her shortly after our previous border collie, Murphy, passed. Adopting Maggie from Missouri-Kansas Border Collie Rescue not only began my association with the dog, but also with this great organization and an entire network of people dedicated to caring for the homeless and needy members of this wonderful breed.

Just before Maggie's first birthday, in early July, I got an email from another rescue group asking to help with a transport. A young, needy male was being pulled from a shelter in Oklahoma and needed a ride to Chicago to an adoptive family. This photo accompanyed that email:

Something about the photo struck my heart, and I volunteered to give him a ride from Rolla MO, and give him a place to stay for a few days while we organized the rest of his transport. Jake was a little shy, very wormy, didn't want anyone to touch his feet or hindquarters and was wearing a cat collar. After a bath and a good meal, I took some digital photos and emailed them to his new family. My heart dropped when I read their reply. "Uh oh, he doesn't look like what we thought" "do you think his hair will grow?" "I'm not so sure...." I immediately called them and said the deal was off. If they were not jumping up and down to have him, I would not bring him to them. They said they would take him "if they had to" but otherwise, thanks but no thanks. Now, I have an intact male dog with no place to go... what had I done.

I immediately started taking photos and put him up for adoption on the Mo-Kan site. As you can imagine, he wasn't the most popular orphan. The majority of people want those beautiful rough coats and we couldn't be sure that Jake was even a purebred. But applications for adoption did arrive and we read them carefully. None of them sounded just right, so Jake continued to stay with us.

From July to October Jake lived with us "temporarily." We had him neutered and taught him manners. It took countless hours of patience to get him to lie still for a nail trim, and he started looking better. He still would not let us touch his hindquarters, but a visit to the vet and a quick x-ray explained it. Jakes hips were riddled with pellets from a pellet gun (not shot from a shotgun, but multiple pellets from different directions). There were several that were on pressure points... elbows and such that were removed and this seemed to help. We continued to read applications and wonder what had happened in this sweet young boy's life.

In October, I went to Kansas City for the weekend and took both Maggie and Jake. We stayed at a hotel that had a sliding door to a courtyard that allowed us quick access to grass to take the dogs out. Sarah was 16 at the time and took both of them out around midnight for a potty trip. Several drunk young men came around the corner and started toward Sarah, calling to her to come with them. At some point they got too close for Jake's comfort and mild-mannered Jake turned into Cujo. He snarled, snapped, pulled at the end of his lead and frothed at the mouth. Needless to say, the drunk guys didn't want to push their luck and left.

On Sunday night during the drive home we talked about how Jake had protected Sarah and how, though we only wanted two dogs, he was fitting in well with the family. And even though we never really wanted a new dog, we just could not imagine our home without him. So, on our way home, we stopped and bought him a good collar and tags. We told Mo-Kan to take him off the adoption page, and we told Jake that he was finally home for good.
Happy Anniversary Jake...we are so glad that you found us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is it agility time yet?

Yikes, it seems like years since Maggie and I have had an agility show (May to be precise). But she'd better get her happy feet in gear because we'll be at Pacific this weekend. The knee is still a little wobbly, but I'm sure Maggie will make me look good anyway. If I can get her out of bed....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Professional Handlers

Apparently I've injured some feelings with my comments regarding professional handlers and the recent tragedy involving the dogs in Jefferson County. So, I took a little time to reconsider and I've decided that perhaps I was a little harsh. I still have a strong bias towards owner/handlers because I believe that dog shows, whether conformation, agility, obedience... whatever... should be a time to spend with your friend and have fun. I don't understand professional handlers, especially the ones that are taking the dogs away from the family's home, though I have a much more understanding for someone that would take over the dog ringside. Following a recent injury I did let a friend take my dog into the agility ring for one run and I guess the only difference would be that I didn't pay her.
Nevertheless, I still have a strong disdain for owners and professional handlers whose major goal is a BUSINESS, not an enjoyable afternoon with their pet. I don't care how much time they spend or how well they treat them, this isn't a situation I'm comfortable with. I feel the same way about boarding schools... why have children if your going to ship them off to a boarding school? I got into agility to spend time and have fun with my dog, not to win at agility. Sure, with a better handler she would be more successful, but that isn't the point. If she stops having fun in the ring, or one of us can no longer run, we will find somethiing else to do together. The goal isn't to win, the goal is to give us both the opportunity to have fun with one another.
Anyway, to those of you that are paid handlers that take a dog ringside, I'm sorry if I came on too strong. My only excuse is that I was so angry about the senseless loss of those beautiful dogs that I wasn't thinking it through. For those of you that are paid handlers that keep, train, and transport dogs, please help me understand why a loving pet owner would want to pass thier dog over to you. Don't they miss them and worry about them while they are gone?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guardedly Optomistic

Well the knee is a little stiff and I didn't try to run too fast, but we made it through the entire course a couple times. Of course Maggie was her usual wonderful self.... as Carol would say "it just isn't right to love a dog this much" but we do love them that much-tonight especially for making me look good while I was taking it easy on the old knee.
But perhaps what really set off the evening was a gift from our agility friends. They got me a t-shirt that says
"Dog Needs Handler With Better Knees"
You can say that again. Thanks ladies, it was made for me!