Friday, January 27, 2012

Obedience vs Agility

I've been toying with the idea of training one of my dogs for the obedience ring. Probably Jake since his hips won't support an agility career and he deserves a chance to do something. But this weekend has really put a damper on that idea.
We are in Nashville at a show that have both agility and obedience. And the difference between the two is striking.
At the agility ring, people are laughing and talking. Someone leaves the ring after a particularly nice run and people clap with genuine happiness for them. "Good run!" "Wow, what a great front cross after [obstacle] six!" And for the people that didn't do so well "Sorry about the bar, but wow, was that a great run otherwise!" or, "dang him for popping those weaves... especially when you had such a good run going!" The participants (both human and canine) are having fun, visiting, laughing and cheering one another on. Sure, there is competition, but it isn't mean spirited.
But the last two days, I've passed through the obedience area, and it is like there is an evil spell around them. The people are stressed and no one was cheering others on. The tension level was palpable. All during the day as we walked from the agility ring or outdoors back to the crating area, people were practicing their obedience work in the middle of the aisles-all with very stern expressions. Even at the hotel, we were rudely interrupted by the sound of someone tossing their dumbell down the hallway at 6am to get ready for today's show. AND, it might be my imagination, but I think that there is WAY more poop than normal being left behind, and I'm blaming it all on the obedience people (even though I have no evidence to support that).
Anyway, these last few days have made me change my mind about obedience- I just don't have it in me. One of two things would happen... either I would start being rude back to all the cranky folks, OR, I would turn it into a big joke and say/do something entirely wacky.
Either way, it wouldn't be pretty.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christmas in July

Due to everyone's busy schedule, our doggy-friends could not find a time for our Christmas party until last week. Then, when the day arrived, we were snowed and iced-out. So when the day finally arrived (last night) it seemed like Christmas had been months ago. Nevertheless, we kicked up our feet and partied like it was... Christmas! And no one knows us like our doggy friends- almost every gift was dog oriented, or was something we could use at a trial or trip to a trial.

One of the more popular gifts at my house was the Rabbit flavored treats. I know how popular rabbit is with my guys, and here was a whole bag of it that did not require catching, nor did it have hair! I'm sure Jake was marveling at the wonder as he scarfed them down.

Another item that I was particularly taken with was this pin:
It is handmade and (though you can't tell from my photo) it is dimensional. If you are interested, I tracked down the artist and she has a page on Etsy I guess they are pretty much one-of-a-kind, so if you see something you like, grab it while you can!
Anyway, I had so much fun with this group of friends, it reminds me that we should not wait for a special occasion to get together. Especially in winter we seem to get more housebound....Do yourself a favor... call a group of your friends and meet somewhere for dinner, or lunch... or something. But don't wait. You could be missing out on a whole lot of fun!

Monday, January 16, 2012

We're back...

This weekend, we attended our first AKC agility trial since Thanksgiving. It was in Chicago, and it was snowing, bitterly cold, and way too far to go for a 2 day trial. But like a junky without their 'fix', Maggie and I made the drive and broke our winter hiatus. The courses were not difficult, but had some unusual twists and turns which was a welcome change.
The trial was also attended by an AKC rep who shared some changes we should expect to see with AKC agility in the coming months. First, the new, shorter length chute is in effect... wow, do dogs pop out of that baby quickly. Next, beginning in July, AKC will be providing awards based on the number of Qs in a single event (taking away the all-or-nothing stigma associated with the double Q). Every 25 Q's in Exc B will be an additional "title"... bronze, silver, gold, and (I think) century (?) for 100 Exc B Qs. This was interesting to me, because I am one of those people that will leave on Sunday if the first run is an NQ- in the past, there has been no real reason to stay for a second run once the double Q is unattainable.
As a side note, it appears that there are still a few people very upset about the removal of the "multiplier" in AKC.* By removing the multiplier, there is more emphasis on consistancy and less on raw speed. And in my opinion, it was, for the most part, a good decision to get rid of it, as some people were pushing their dogs to the point that it was unsafe, just to take first place and get that multiplier. And besides, in many areas, the competition is so stiff that only a fraction of a second separates the top three dogs in a height class. Anyway, the point is that I am always in shock when people get so emotional about stuff like this and get rude- which at least one person did at this trial when the subject came up.
Finally, (and I have almost NO information about this) the AKC is discussing the addition of more new games besides the Time2Beat. The rep said that she knew of 2 that were being discussed- one that will be for the higher level dogs and another that will be open to everyone (like Time2Beat). Aside from that, she didn't share any information.
Meanwhile, our first weekend back was okay- Maggie ran great, I tried some new moves we have been training, which we are clearly not ready for, so we lost 2 Qs unneccesarily... but hey, it isn't about the Qs... it is about being out competing with my best friend.

*Previously, the AKC would 'multiply' your time points by 2 if you took first place, and 1.5 for second place. This was abolished in 2011.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Favorite Cup

It is funny how we get a special attachment to some things and they carry emotions far beyond what their physical presence would inspire. I'm that way with this cup.

I bought it at Herrod's department store in London, on the way home from a deployment. I had just spent months living and working in a tent and sleeping on a cot, so the fragile, graceful design and the gold accents seemed just the thing I needed. I don't remember what it cost... it was foreign money and I had not been able to shop for three months, so I didn't really care- though I doubt that it was expensive.

But it isn't the history of this cup that makes it my favorite. It is the thin bone china and the gold on the cup that really affects how I feel.

Because the china is so very thin, coffee does not stay warm for very long. And because there is so much gold, the cup cannot go in the microwave- so it never goes to the car with me, or sits on the counter while I am doing some task. Therefore, I only use this cup on days when I'm staying home and have a fresh pot of coffee brewed, that I intend to sit down and savor.

Today is one of those days. No work, no agility, just me and a hot pot of freshly ground Starbucks coffee. And my favorite cup. Ahhhhhh.....