Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Mix

Again the weather people made a big deal out of virtually nothing ... for around here, anyway. We seem to live right on the cusp of weather vs no weather. Whereas Mom & Dad in Ontario got a lot of snow, and the NH contingent reports 9 inches, we just got a "wintery mix" yesterday. Rain, sleet, bit of snow.

The rain drops turned to ice in the evening and during the night. Most things have a shiny coating of ice .... very pretty.

Living Room - getting there

The living room is getting there ....

We still have to buy two chairs and an ottoman. Because I want an ottoman :-) The red one there is a desk chair and the green one is one of the dining room chairs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Won!

I commented over at Biggest Diabetic Loser at the beginning of the month and I ended up winning! The package came yesterday but I only got a chance to open it up today. I got a neat snowman mug, some hot chocolate, two jars of Barefoot Contessa sauces and a book! The original post was here

Thank you Biz!!! I love it :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

DOCNA Weekend Continued

Overall, I am very pleased with this weekend. DOCNA is such a feel-good venue and I am usually much more relaxed and do well.

Luce finished up some titles and was running really well. Weather was cool which she prefers. Plus, this was at the building where we train, so it was on home turf. She had 12 runs over the weekend and Q'd in 10 of them ... sure wish that was the case each trial ;-) Too many bobbles, all my fault, for my liking. Some would have been refusals in USDAA, so they wouldn't have been Q's. Only 2 bars down the whole weekend ... unfortunately one in the second jumpers today which meant no Jumpers title this year. My fault though ... I should have put in a front cross, I was indecisive and down it came. Need to be more assertive and stop chickening out! :-)

Blaze did 2 runs per day. Saturday started off with Standard and no stay at the start at all ... first obstacle was a chute and apparently that is just too much :-) I haven't really trained or worked at the start line stay, so when he was vibrating and just staring at the chute, I decided to just let him go. And, boy, did he GO! :-) It was chute, jump, aframe in a line and he stopped at the aframe down contact, so I was able to catch up. I was concerned about the next bit ... jump, jump, then 90 degree turn to the weaves. But, there was another jump beyond the second one with huge off course potential. I don't know how to "turn" him yet and I didn't want to give him a cue to turn and have him just take off and ignore me. I was able to leave him on the aframe (thank goodness for stopped contacts!!) and was able to stand at the next jump and release. Then just one step for him to take the next jump while I then pulled to the weaves and told him to weave. Which he did :-) I crossed behind and got up to the next jump.

The rest was lovely ... from what I remember ... it is all a blur. I know I had to do a blind cross at a curved tunnel as there was no way I was getting there for a front. And he doesn't rear cross yet ;-) Anyway, he was great, he got his first Q ever and a 1st place to boot! I cried :-)

Next run, traditional gamblers, was next for him. He got most of the opening okay ... the gamble was jump, tunnel, back over the jump, then bring them around for another jump. The problem was when they were to come back over the jump, the aframe was right there too and I was worried he would keep going for an off course. I guess I was too close to the jump and he took the bar. Oh well :-)

Today was Snakes N Ladders. It was beautiful ... he only ran by one set of weaves because I was blocking them when he came out of the tunnel and he came with me when I stepped aside. No problem ... turned us both around and he got them for a Q and a 2nd place and his first title!

Last run today was what I was expecting Friday night. Young, green dog running amok! I was debating running either of them in Strategic Gamblers as I was just too tired to come up with a plan. I should have listened to my instincts and just bagged it and gone home. Luce's run was first and it was horrible ... she missed both dogwalk contacts (first of the weekend) and I misjudged the closing and we were over time. I got Blaze out too early and he was WAY too high. No stay at the start and he just WENT. I tried to call him back but he was WAY gone. I am also really mad at myself for NOT holding his contacts as they were NOT what I had the rest of the weekend.

But, overall, good weekend ... for the most part, Blaze can hold his contacts (I REALLY need to work on myself to make sure he DOES hold them!! Definitely no USDAA trials before September!! DOCNA or matches ONLY) If he sees the weaves, he gets in them and does them all. But we need to learn how to turn and to handle ... which I knew. Also, outside trials will be a little easier as I will be able to go behind the tents and watch what is going on. At the building, I had to keep going up the building and peer through the windows to see what was going on. Plus, the very act of going through the door makes him crazy and all the competitors and dogs are all in one spot instead of spread out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blaze's Agility Debut

This weekend is a DOCNA trial at our training building and there are usually two classes on Friday night. There typically aren't a lot of runs and not a lot of dogs or people, so I thought it would be a good place for Blaze to actually be in a trial.

He was manageable in the building ... as long as I had his tug. But he was listening even when I didn't have it ... would sit, give me his paw, nose touches in between the yelping. I need to teach some more tricks though ... calm tricks.

We did the jump and the weave poles in the practice area and he totally was focused on me and not on the dog in the ring. Very good!! He couldn't do that the first year I had him.

First was Strategic Gamblers. He held his stay at the start. He did NOT knock every bar Yes, he knocked a couple, but left most of them up. Most important ... he STUCK his aframe (twice!!) and teeter. I mean 2on/2off and didn't leave until I said OK!!!! He was going so fast that he ended up falling off of the dogwalk. And he got his weaves and FAST! We didn't Q because we crossed the finish line way too early .... like 2 seconds too early. I haven't run him before so I had no idea how many obstacles he could do .... looks like I need to plan for a LOT more with Blaze than I do with Luce :-)

Second was Snakes & Ladders. Did NOT stay at the start. I couldn't find the smaller tug, so he was ramped up too much coming into the ring. Lesson learned. BUT ... again, he STUCK all 3 contacts ... 2on/2off until the OK. And got all 3 sets of weaves!! But we didn't Q .... I wasn't fast enough and direct enough so my pull to the finish line was weak, so he turned and put his paws on the aframe again for an "E". Oh well :-) I need to be quicker with this boy :-)

So, I was ecstatic with his contacts and weaves. I had decided to put him in this trial to see if he could do them in this situation and he can!! But .... as I suspected, it isn't the obstacles themselves, it is everything in between! One small forward cue too many, and off he goes. And I am SO used to giving lots of forward cues for Luce .... this will take some time. It didn't matter with the Strategic Gamblers as he just racked up more points. He took the wrong tunnel after one of the sets of weaves in Snakes and Ladders which altered my plan .... I put one step forward and off he went!

That was the purpose with this trial ... to see where we are. He hasn't even attended a class yet, so I'm not upset. He has two classes tomorrow as well, but for some reason, I didn't sign him up on Sunday.

I also got Blaze measured ... the judge was Bud Houston who has been judging for quite a while for various venues, so I think it is a good measurement. 20-7/8" Woohooo, under 21!! Doesn't matter for DOCNA as 22" is the cutoff for the next jump height, but he needs to be 21" or under for USDAA. He didn't snap at the judge and was fairly calm for the measurement which was good too ;-) I always expect the worst LOL Unfortunately, he will need another measurement as he isn't 3 years old yet, but he is good for the weekend. I think Darryl said he didn't need another measurement now until he is 3, but there are 3 spaces on the form ... guess I should read the rules again.

Oh yeah, I also phoned the vet today and Blaze is officially heartworm free now! So the treatment in the summer worked and we don't have to worry any more.

Luce did well ... she Q'd in Strategic Gamblers for her Specialist Gamblers Title and also Q'd in Snakes & Ladders .. that is her first Q at the Specialist level as we had to start at Beginners for that class. She was moving too, I didn't have to drag her around the ring. And she got all of her contacts - not 2on/2off at a trial like Blaze gave me, but in the yellow without leaping off.

Luce is entered in everything this weekend but I might not go on Sunday morning ... other stuff to do.

I'd been apprehensive about this trial, but it went pretty much as should have been expected. I need to manage him BIG time outside the ring. I need to work on his start line stays. He has good contacts and weaves. And we need to work on handling BIG time.

But, I was able to manage him for the most part - so I am feeling better about getting him into a class situation now. I need to figure out which class and when and how I am going to manage that. He would be eligible for a class on Thursday night at Keystone ... Luce's class is Wednesday night. Two nights in a row ... eeek. But I need to keep going to class with Luce for those 2 elusive gambler legs for her APD (Performance ADCH). We are also working towards the Silver Snooker and Bronze Standard titles as well ....

Off to bed ... we are going back tomorrow and the first dog is at 7:15am ... EARLY!!

Duh Moment

I had my MRI today ... and a "duh" moment as well. I knew that I couldn't wear anything with metal in it, so that meant no jeans. My sweatpants have a huge hole in them, so they were out. I had a pair of "activewear" pants that have a zipper on the bottom of the leg. The zipper itself is plastic and the zipper pull didn't attract the fridge magnets, so I wore those.

When I was checked in and all, the receptionist said we better not take a chance with the pants and gave me a pair of scrub pants ... and that was the "duh" moment. I wear scrubs to work every single day and never even thought of wearing those!!

One of the gals at work told me that I also couldn't wear metal when I go for my bone density next week ... so I will wear scrubs :-)

If I ever have an MRI done again, I will also make sure that I don't drink a lot of coffee ... and make sure I drink water for at least a day before. But not right before ... when you are laying there in that little MRI tube and you know you can't move, that's when you think you have to go to the bathroom (again) and when your nose starts to itch :-) They did the first series of scans/images (whatever they are called), then pulled me out to inject a dye for the second set. Well, because of all the coffee and the lack of water, I was really dehydrated. My veins like to "hide" anyway, but when I am dehydrated, it is really hard to find them. It took 2 people a long time ... and 7 tries in my hands and arms later, they finally got it.

Musing (Whining?)

What is with the weather? Who is in charge, cuz, whoever (whomever?) it is, isn't doing a very good job. It rained for TWO SOLID DAYS. Poured rain. Not just drizzle, but POURED. The dogs didn't want to do out in it and they usually don't mind.

Last weekend it was FREEZING COLD. Of course, I was at an agility seminar in an unheated building. Of course. Wednesday, it was close to 60 degrees. Did I get to go to agility? No. Won't get into that here. I have an agility trial this weekend and what is the temperature going to do? Don't need to be a weatherperson to forecast that one.

I probably need some cheese to go with this whine. But it's my blog and I can whine if I want to.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just an Update

Just an update because it is now December :-)

The living room is coming along ... the floor is done and we bought an area rug. We are now on the hunt for two wing-type chairs and an ottoman. The drums still need to go away and we need to put in the sofa table and end table. The chair that was in the living room is up in our bedroom and the couch is still, temporarily, in the dining room. It will be thrown out ... poor Luce ... she sleeps in that a lot! Not worry, I put one of the dog beds in the a corner in the living room and will be on the look out for a nicer bed for her. She was already sleeping on the bare floor after it was done, so I have made it a bit more comfortable. She does like her little corner of the room :-)

There is still a lot of stuff in the dining room, but at least we got to eat Thanksgiving dinner in there. I brined the turkey for the first time and, boy, was it ever flavorful and tender! A little salty, but then again, the brine recipe was for a 20lb bird and ours was 13lbs. I did cut down on the salt, but I guess I need to cut down a little more.

I also made this pumpkin cheesecake. Other than the crust, it was SO good! It wasn't a dense cheesecake, but rather, was kind of fluffy. The crust got hard, like a really hard cookie, but it was good too. Other people had the same problem, so I'm not sure what the answer is.

I worked from home a lot last week. Brennan had his last day of work last week on Monday and Evan spent most of his time here out with various friends. Hugh was out of town, so I was able to get a lot done!

I also, finally, got a website up for my trial secretary stuff: Took a bit of fiddling to find a website template that I liked and that I could update on my own. Brennan was going to write it, or find me a template, but I wasn't liking a lot of the choices. We tried Wordpress as well, but I found it hard to customize to the way I wanted it to look. Wordpress is primarily blogging software as is this site, Blogger. This site doesn't really easily allow the separate pages that I wanted. Separate pages are slightly easier to get in Wordpress, but I was having trouble with formatting. The hosting site that I went with has SiteBuilder for free and it just "clicked" with my brain, so that is what I went with :-) I don't want to have to reinvent the wheel or relearn everything every time I update something. Or have to rely on Brennan to do it for me. After all, one of the reasons I did want my own site was to be able to publish trial test schedules, copies of final confirmations and running orders when it was ready and not to have to rely on the webmasters of each individual club to do it. Not that it never gets done ... it does! But things can happen, people can be away, or they have work etc, so I wanted my own site to consolidate it all.

I'll get my first chance to update it when the test schedule for the sanctioned match I am doing is finally approved, which will be this week I hope. I got that done last week as well and it is at USDAA for approval. I am sure there will be changes as there always ARE changes. I was lucky ... only two changes for the February Keystone trial and those were changes in wording that USDAA had just decided on, nothing that I had missed .... but this is a brand new test schedule, from scratch, so I am sure there will be things that I need to change around.

I also need to figure out how to get a list of height cards that I have on file into one big READABLE list and figure out the best way to update it as well. And I want to get results on there for the two October trials. I got some of it on there already. It will be easier to produce when I am wrapping up each trial rather than go back and do two whole trials all at once.

Evan went back to Duquesne yesterday. Hugh decided to come along as he hadn't seen the school since Evan went to look at it in April. However, it rained/sleeted the whole drive there and rained/sleeted the whole way home. The drive there took a bit longer than usual as we had to slow down to 30mph at times due to fog. As we got over to the west side of the state, past all the tunnels, we noticed that the eastbound turnpike was stop and go with lineups miles long. A couple of times it was due to the salters being out and doing their job, but other times, we weren't sure. We're talking MILES long. So, after we got Evan moved back in, we got out the map, played with the GPS and took an alternate route home. Which took longer. LONG day of driving and Hugh did all of it. He wanted to drive and kept refusing our offers to drive. I slept off and on and listened to books on my ipod :-) Evan slept most of the way.

Because there were 3 of us, we were able to move Evan back in one trip. Hugh, of course, was appalled at small size of the dorm room. He was always appalled when Brennan was at school too and can't understand why everyone just doesn't live at home :-)

We didn't walk around the campus because it was cold and raining. Of course it was ... I brought my camera!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some Changes

We have some changes going on.

This is our dining room right now:

View from the hallway:

What is going on?

Well, this:

Wood floor in the living room.

I'm not crazy about the color, but the carpet was absolutely shot. Someone, not me, REALLY wanted more wood floor, so I compromised on the living room instead of the diningroom. I think this is darker than Brennan and Hugh thought it was, but there it is. Things I don't like are dark wood and brown ... and now here is dark wood and the front door and part of the porch is brown! Not really not liking that.

Luce isn't happy right now as her "hole" in the living room is gone. She doesn't know where to go, where to lie down, and is very restless. I will put down a dog bed or a large mat in her "hole" when it is all done. Blaze doesn't like the sound of the compressor when it goes off, or the frequent vacuuming Brennan and Hugh need to do.

It will look nice when it is done and we get a large area rug in there. Hugh is going too gung ho with change though. I prefer to get ONE thing done, then go on to the next. He also wanted to rip up the dining room carpet while he was at it (and just where was all the dining room stuff going to go?) and get rid of the couch and chair ...

We also got a new mattress and box spring for our bed (first time I woke up without a backache in quite a while!) So, not only is the whole living room in the dining room, but the old mattress/box spring is leaning against the wall in our room. And there are still boxes and bags and such in the upstairs hallway and in Evan's room from when Brennan painted his room. At least I moved and reorganized a lot of the stuff that ended up in Evan's room so that you can see the floor and walk around.

I am trying to be positive because I do not like change :-) However, I don't like every room pulled apart all at the same time. 2 winters ago when Hugh had Brennan painting, every single room of the house was out of whack. Either things were moved out of the room so that Brennan could paint, or a room was full of stuff from another room. Plus, Evan was going to paint his room and had moved a lot of stuff out of there into our room and the basement. That was a mess and was not relaxing at all. Then I had to get ready for one of the Keystone trials, so my time was limited as well.

I have had the last 2 or 3 weeks off from trials, so I have had some time for cleaning. Of course, now with everything moved around, and sawing and such, it will all have to be redone. And I will be gone next weekend for a trial and life is going to start getting busy again. If we can just do one room at a time, it would be so much easier and less chaotic and I would be a little more receptive to some changes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wider Blogging Area

I found a guide to widen the actual blogging area for this template:

Pictures and video will fit much better now.

Now I need to center the header picture (or make it bigger) ... I did it before, so I can find out how to do it again :-)

Thursday morning practice

I had reserved the Kruisin barn for Thursday morning, so off we went. Blaze barked the whole way there which was very unnerving.

There was a whole course set up - Thursday morning is a good time to go :-)

I took Blaze out first. We worked on the opening quite a bit as it was tricky. Sort of a loop coming back, extending out a bit, then looping back then switching.

We needed to work on when I need to slow down or move laterally, or both, so that Blaze reads it and collects. His inclination is to YEE HAW down a line of jumps :-) However, I have been working on some jumping stuff at home where he needs to collect and come to me and work close and it seems to be paying off.

He did get it after a while. If he got the handling cues about turning, then he dropped a bar, so we still don't have it right. Sigh. At least he was doing 20" the whole time (Kruisin has AKC/NADAC jump cups, so no 22") and didn't duck under any of the jump bars like he did in September. I have to NOT get obsessed with the dropped bars and create a problem where none exists right now. It is most likely just a green dog thing.

He got all of his contacts which was good. I was very pleased with that. He wants to leave SO badly though .... I will need to continue to reinforce the contact behavior so that it doesn't become a problem. And remember that the DOCNA trial in December is for the training!!! Maybe if I tell myself that enough between now and then I'll actually DO it :-)

There were tricky sections on that 23 obstacle course, so I broke it down and we worked on parts.

I tell you, I really need to get into shape for this dog! After the aframe, it was a jump, jump, weaves, all in a straight line. Then a curved tunnel beyond the weaves but they had to take the far end of the tunnel. A front cross at the end of the weaves worked the best to get Blaze into the correct end of the tunnel, but to get to the end of the weaves to actually DO it was hard work! I didn't have the right shoes on which didn't help. So, note to self, ALWAYS weave running shoes when running Blaze!! And it was still humid in the barn! My jeans felt like I was wearing lead which didn't help matters any! And thank goodness Blaze has stopped contacts, because I couldn't get to the end of the dogwalk before he did and it was a flip away to a tunnel.

One problem we had at that section was there was a dummy chute even and to the left of the weaves. I was on Blazes left, and he took the chute the first 3 times ... if he was ahead of me, he crossed in front of me to take it and once I was ahead of him and he crossed behind me to take it. Not sure what was up with that - I need to bring the video camera. Maybe a tunnel is more of a draw than weave poles are? More visible? I was on that side? I somehow cued it? I don't know. Once he knew where the weave poles were he was fine, but we aren't going to get a second chance in a trial situation!

I was very winded after Blaze's session. I rested a bit, then it was Luce's turn. It would be SO much easier if they jumped the same height! Luce would have gotten a Q our first time around :-) Good little girl :-) We redid some parts to tighten turns etc ... actually got a flyoff the aframe, yikes! Got to correct that and I went back to reinforcing all of the contacts. She got the weave pole entrance, the little monkey ... why not at trials!!! Again, need to bring the video camera to see just what the heck I am doing differently!! I would love it if she had independent weave poles, but she doesn't and at age 9, I don't know that she ever will have. I am certainly aiming for that with Blaze!

We had a little break, then I brought Blaze back for another go at the first half which was the trickiest. I had noticed with Luce that if I moved even more laterally AND slowed down, it cued a certain turn much better than the way I had done it with Blaze. It did work better and he really collected and knew that he was going to turn. I should have thrown in some going straight at that point ... just thought of that now. He is smart enough that he knew what the course was by that point :-) Anyway, more bar problems. Hopefully this will resolve itself eventually.

We didn't get to work on rear crosses, but the extension/collection stuff was good. Didn't do any distance stuff with Luce either. I need to go with a plan in my head for her.

Unfortunately, Blaze must have very tender feet because he has some very tender spots on his pads, and two of them are slipped. I think due to the combination of doing the contacts and the mulch. So, that is it for agility for a week until his pads are better. He did this once before at the barn and I totally had forgotten about it. I will have to be more careful in the future if the contacts are out. It is only on the contacts ... when it is just jumps, he is fine.

All in all, a good session. Blaze wasn't crazy wild like he was in class that one night. He was "listening" more and I'm trying to handle more. The first time through the sequence, I was too afraid to get up to one point for a front cross as I was afraid it would push him even further out. Gave myself a stern talking to, and got up there all the other times.

Got to work on stay at the start and the first obstacle was a tunnel that Blaze VERY much wanted to take :-)

Blaze rode in the back of the car in the crate on the way home. I figured, if he was going to bark non stop, he might as well do it back there rather than right behind me in the car. He was POOPED, so other than his usual barking as the car starts up, he was quite almost the whole time home :-)

Wednesday night class

We got to class on Wednesday night. Missed last week due to not having a car, so it was good to be able to go back. My usual ambivalence - usually tired by that time so that I don't want to go, but I enjoy it when I get there.

Brought Blaze along as well and he was horrible in the car. He had been settling in riding in the back seat, but that night it was non stop barking like he used to do when he rode in the crate in the back of the car. This barking makes me CRAZY!!

Our sequences were short which was fine. I like a mix over time of small drills, short sequences and full blown courses. The floor was divided into two sections with a short self serve sequence on the other side.

We got there early, so the early class was still going on (traffic is always a crap shoot, so sometimes we are on time, sometimes we are early) I brought Blaze into the building as I figured that Luce would have her time in there for the actual class. I brought a tug with me, approached the door, and expected the worst. And was very pleasantly surprised! Blaze was interested in his tugging and didn't even notice that a dog was running at first. Then he noticed and went for his tug. There was a jump and a set of 6 weave poles out on the mat and he dragged me over to that. So ... I took a chance, took off his leash and we did some jump, weave, jump combos with a reward of his tug and he never gave the actual ring a glance!!

We were even able to get up to where people were watching ... and Blaze was wonderful. He was fearsome on the tug :-) but if it means he can be managed and divert his excitement away from barking and screaming, I'm all for it! Some people didn't even realize I had Blaze there ... the most noise he made was when I stepped on his foot accidently.... ooops!

So, I was very, very pleased and have some hope that we will actually be able to attempt some runs at the DOCNA trial in December. There weren't a lot of people in class, so it wasn't crazy and there typically aren't a lot of people there on Friday night of the DOCNA trial.

Luce had a good night, especially the first sequence. We tried different ways of handling it with pushes and pulls and crossing here and then there. It was all good and I am going to try and trust Luce more on certain types of jump combinations.

I "lost" Luce a little on the second sequence. It was drizzling outside and was windy, so inside the building, it sounded like a torrential downpour! Luce, of course, equates that with thunder and she was getting apprehensive, especially when there were huge gusts of wind. She got through the second sequence okay, but not at the speed she had for the first one.

We also did the self serve part once ... it had a teeter and weaves and she got her weave poles, the little monkey :-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Did a short session this morning with weaving again.

Also resurrected the older camera that also has video capabilities.

This is Blaze doing "soft side" weaves.

And Blaze doing "hard side" weaves out of a tunnel. The tunnel was almost at 90 degrees and I did a cross behind. He doesn't seem to care what I am doing when he is weaving which is what I want.

Wow, imbedding video actually works :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I feel like I am returning to the land of the living. What with most of the Fair Hill entries coming in the last week of closing, then pre trial prep for Keystone and then Fair Hill, then the week after the trials spent in doing all the post trial paperwork and getting both trials into the mail (by 2:38pm on Friday, woot!!) there wasn't much time for anything else. Then, I didn't have a car last week because of two stupid bolts that had gone missing from the rear brake calipers. Took them a whole, solid week to get two new ones!!

Anyway, car is back, trials are out the door! I need to start on the test schedule for Keystone's February trial. And find out who is doing the test schedule for Lehigh Valley Dream Weavers sanctionned match in January. But I can take a break from all that for a couple of weeks.

I went up to the Kruisin barn today for the first time in over a month. Worked on rear crosses and jumping with Blaze. He is getting it, he is getting it!!!! I do have to give him more turning cues or he will just keep on going. He did some serpentines as well. So cool :-) He did most of them at 20" and kept a lot of bars up ... a lot better than early September anyway :-) I do think it will come! I just have to learn how to "steer" him :-)

I also put him on the aframe (full height) and dogwalk (half height as that was how it was set) and he got all of his contacts. Decided to give him some distraction on the aframe by swinging his tug toy. He came off, so I put him back on. He then trembled and was just dying to go, but he stayed there and stayed for several reps, good boy!!

Put him away, brought Luce out. Didn't work her as much as she will have class tomorrow night. Did some weave pole entrances which she got. Hmmm. Why there and not at home? Same angle. At home she isn't bending and is going in between 2 and 3. Mulch surface at the barn, so maybe she can't go as fast as the hard ground at home? And it was a little wet at home on the weekend, so maybe she didn't feel she had good footing? Not sure. We'll see how she does on the Sprint Turf at Barto.

She does not have as good entrances as the Blazo Boy though .... I have to manage hers as she isn't reliable at anything greater than 45 degrees or so. At least she is collecting herself and making an effort to get the poles .... except for at home this weekend. Gotta be the footing. Gotta move the weave poles in the yard when it is drier out (it drizzled a little today) and see if that is the reason.

She is a little monkey and can be squirrely. As well as being a border collie I remember a few years ago when I had the weave poles on the front yard. She would only weave in one direction .. didn't matter if I was on her left or her right, she would only go from the creek side of the yard to the driveway side of the yard and not back again. That went on for not quite a week and then she was fine. But it was strange while it happened :-)

We have another session reserved on Thursday morning. More of the equipment should be out and maybe I can get some sequencing in for Blaze and work on communicating with each other on course. It is just a matter of working with him and both of us learning how to "talk" to each other. Plus he is a green dog, so that is a factor as well.

Anna was there with her new dog, Spring, when I got there. We talked for a bit before she left, and she said Tuesday was the worst day to come as the beginners have been there Monday night and nothing is out. That's okay, I can always find something to work on and there were jumps set up in the outside ring.

Anna would love to train with someone, so we might get together starting in the new year. Spring is quite different from Belle :-) It will help me stay focussed and will help having another set of eyes. And it is easier to move equipment with two people ;-) Spring will need more basic stuff which won't hurt Blaze to do. I haven't done everything with him that I probably should.

Anyway, I was pleased with the short session. I didn't stay that long as it was humid up there for some reason. Freezing back at the house, but humid in the barn. Go figure.

DOCNA Nationals - October 2008

After blogging about USDAA Nationals, I did have to mention that Luce and I went to DOCNA Nationals the first weekend of October. It was up at Barto where we usually train, so it was a no-brainer :-)

DOCNA, Dogs on Course in North America, is a fairly new organization that is a lot of fun. They sort of took all the best parts of the various venues and discarded other parts. Courses are nice and reasonable, equipment is whatever is available (ie what we are used to) and training in the ring is well defined. 3 tries up to SCT and then out. I took advantage of that in August when Luce flew off the aframe. I let the judge know we were dropping to training and I put her back on the bottom of the frame. The look on Luce's face was priceless because this doesn't happen at a trial!! We then swung around, did a few jumps back to the aframe and she stuck it. Came back over, stuck it again, good girl and out! The next run was North America Challenge (sort of like Grand Prix) and Luce got her contacts, good girl :-)

Blaze will be debuting in DOCNA in December as I can go back and train. Plus it is still a low key venue which will help.

Anyway, I didn't do the whole 3 days as Keystone was the following weekend with Kinetic the weekend after that. Too much pre-trial prep work to do! So we went on Saturday only. Got a Nationals shirt and a tote bag of goodies. The judge and one of the venue owners are Canadians so they even played Oh Canada as well as the National Anthem :-) It was also a beautiful day in terms of weather and we knew a lot of people there. A lot of Kruisin Kanines folk as well as Keystone and others that I knew.

Luce did really well ... got her weave poles again. Only had one dropped bar and that was in the National Challenge which meant we came in second instead of first. Still, that earned her a silver medal for the East. The course was built out west as well (they apparently spent hours on the phone getting both courses as close as possible) and the results were combined. We would have finished 3rd in the country except for that uncharacteristic dropped bar!!

This pic is courtesy of Michelle Yon. She got one of Luce with her ribbons and medal and also got some of MABCR dogs as well as Kruisin dogs. The rest of the pictures are at Michelle's site.

DOCNA doesn't just have a warm up jump, but also has warm up weave poles. They also had one of the new self healing tires out in the warm up area, and later on, the dogwalk. I ran Blaze over them and he was great!!! Not sure if I was "allowed" to run Blaze on that stuff, but no one else was waiting to use the area and someone else said to just go ahead.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I'm glad I went. Now I can say that we went and competed at a Nationals event! We are already qualified to go next year, but apparently the weekend is being changed as they couldn't nail down the site in the West. 2009 will be the same weekend as the Keystone trial, so 2009 DOCNA Nationals is out for us ... and a lot of others as well. That made me doubley glad that I went!

Teams and Titling

The Fair Hill trial was a few weeks ago now.

It was so much fun! I think secretarying for not-my-club is a little more relaxing than when I secretary for Keystone. The weather was great with no rain ... first time in 7 years or so I heard!

I've only ever done Fair Hill twice ... once with Princess back when USDAA was running it and it was still the Steeplechase and DAM Team Nationals and once, last year, with Luce. Both times I only went for one day, so this was a whole new experience.

I had Luce entered in everything and she LOVED the cooler weather. I had my old (young) dog back! We got a few Q's including a Gamble Q!!!! Two more and that is her APD, the Performance ADCH!

Rebecca & Piper teamed with Luce and me for Performance Versatility Pairs. We were supposed to team for NE Regionals. I wanted to do Team as I figured we would need another Team Q in order to earn the Accomplished Tournament Dog at some point in time. I didn't think we could earn the rest of the 10 Perf. Grand Prix Q's by the end of 2008 which is when the new Performance titling rules come into effect (finally!) By June 2008, we already had 7 GP Q's, 2 Steeplechase and 1 PVP. So, old or new rules, we had enough tournaments for the APD. New rules will mirror the Championship requirements, so for the Accomplished title, need 2 of each tournament and fill in the rest.

Rebecca had emailed me back before the NE Regional, asking if anyone had entered PVP as a draw, but it had to be someone wanted to go for a Q but understood if things happened. Or understood if she needed to pull Piper as Piper had had some medical issues the few months before. As I said, I had wanted to enter PVP, but hadn't lined anything up and was hesitant to enter as a draw as we can be inconsistant and the heat really slows Luce (and me!!) down. After all, chocolate DOES melt in the heat :-) Plus, being trial secretary means I am distracted and even less on my so-called game than usual. So this was perfect!!!

Back in 2006 when we hosted the NE Regional and I was secretary for it, I missed the Team Snooker briefing, and never had a chance to look at a course map. I walked it but it was quite a while before we could run. I totally missed that the #7 was tunnel, jump, tunnel. We were having a good run and were going for the 7 (can't remember if it was in the opening or closing!). Tunnel, jump, she heads for the tunnel and I pull her off, phew!! TWEET!!! Judge Tammy said I should have trusted my dog We came off and I was confused until someone explained. Ack!!

Rebecca understood and said she would undertake the responsibility of making sure I got to the walk throughs, tell me what I needed to know in case I missed the briefing and give me the gamble and snooker strategy. After a long series of ping ponging emails, we came up with a name, Caution, Loose Pipes!, and Rebecca even had tshirts made for us. Thursday came and I loaded up my car for the long weekend ahead and got to set up. Weather was really nice. Brennan called me saying someone left a message about being sick and the hospital and tick disease and apologising profusely. He really didn't get it, but thought he should call me. When I got to the hotel that night and was able to check my email, I got one from Rebecca ... she was the one who had called. She had gone to the ER with a really high fever and it turned out that SHE had Rocky Mountain and Ehrlichia and had to scratch. She was really sorry for pulling etc, etc.

Turns out it was for the best as it was BEASTLY hot and we had a lot of problems on Saturday because of the heat. Luce and I only had one run scheduled now that we weren't doing Team and we scratched out of that as well as it was round 1 of Grand Prix. As we had a bye (!!!!) we could run the next day anyway. Rebecca recovered as well, so that was good!!

Fast forward to Fair Hill and Rebecca and I decided to try the team again. Rebecca made sure I made the walk throughs, I actually made it to the briefings :-) She also was able to spend time with the course maps and gave me some strategies for Snooker and Gamblers.

Rebecca and Piper E'd in Jumpers but she did it so smoothly we weren't sure WHY she got an E until we asked someone. Luce and I almost E'd ... I finished rotating after a front cross and almost sent her over the wrong jump, recovered, but it put me out of position for the 180. Luce being not that fast meant I had time to peak around the jump to make sure it was the right one and we finished clean. Snooker went well for us both. Gamblers was a Time Gamble and we both finished. I wanted to play it conservatively and not lose points. Luce and I E'd in Standard. She is such an honest dog that she will try to do what I tell her even when it means I don't give her enough room and miscue her so much that I send her right INTO the jump standard. She turned around and looked at it like it had jumped out and bit her! She didn't seem to be limping so I put her in the weaves and could see the jump after the weaves that she wasn't right. I ended up taking her off the course when Cherie said she seemed to be limping. I think she just stung herself as she was fine afterwards.

We strategized over Relay and picked the half that was best for each dog. Had a couple of hairy moments with Luce and she even rolled out of the chute! Yikes!! But we were clean and we won the class!!!! The bigger, faster dogs were E'ing like crazy and that course really allowed some teams to move up above the line .... like Caution, Loose Pipes!!! So, that was our second Team Q and means Luce now has her Accomplished Tournament Dog title ... I guess it isn't official until January 1, but who is counting :-)

USDAA Nationals and agility musings

USDAA Nationals happened over the weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. This year, they had live streaming video of all of the tournament finals - woohoooo!!! They also have the videos archived.

It was SO cool to watch ... almost like being there. I was lucky enough to be able to go to the 2005 Nationals as DH offered me his frequent flyer miles, so I have been there. And that was a lot of fun too :-)

How neat to be able to watch people from this area compete .. and to see people from the North East as ring crew. I would go to do that, but getting all that time off of work and home ... and the money to fly out there .... it isn't going to happen. If I did go again, I would rent a car so that I wasn't dependent on hitching a ride with everyone else. I don't think they minded, but I hate being the 5th wheel and feeling like I am imposing.

Other than for PNS Nationals on Friday night, the running orders were up before the actual event. I was toying with setting up my extra monitor but then realized that would be excessive LOL Results were up by the next morning for the previous day for just about all of the classes which was also nice.

Great job and I hope they continue with the streaming video for other events. Really is nice for those of us at home.

Watching the streaming video was so inspiring. However, I don't think I have the mental capacity to keep it all together for a Nationals. I think running in the main ring would freak me out. I'm not consistent enough either. Luce is such fun to run - when she is running that is - but she isn't a speedy border collie. Never has been, never will be. So, a mediocre team wouldn't have a chance. But, as I say, it was inspiring and will motivate me to keep on training.

Now, Blaze. Oh my. He deserves a better handler!! The Team Relay on Sunday had a weave pole entry that I know Luce would NOT be able to do. I set up just that part (jump, tunnel, weaves) in the yard, and sure enough, Luce could not do it. I have to shape the entry for her.

But Blaze. As I said, oh my :-) I have finally have a dog that can WEAVE!! He was nailing that entrance and doing all 12 each and every time. That dog does love him some weaves :-) In fact, he wasn't reading my body cues (or even verbal ones!) when I tried to get him out of the tunnel and NOT into the weaves! He can do all of the obstacles, it is the stuff in between the obstacles that we REALLY need to work on :-) He is entered in a DOCNA trial in December. It is low key and Friday night typically doesn't have a lot of dogs entered .. .usually 30 runs between the two classes. I should be able to manage him. I just want to see what I have with him. After I got to run him in class at Keystone, I was PUMPED. But I don't want to rush it ... my goal is Blackthorne 2009. If he is ready earlier, then fine, but I NEED TO NOT RUSH HIM!!

I don't have him in a class yet due to his reactivity so I don't really know what I have. I need to get him into something - that is a goal for early 2009. I need to learn how to handle a dog like this! Luce was faster than Princess and Blaze is SO much different from both of the girls. For all of my agility life (10 years now, wow!) I have had dogs that I needed to keep motivating forward and away from me. All of my cues are for this, so the few times I have been able to run Blaze in a facility, he goes to the next county! I need to rein him in, but not too much. I don't want to lose the distance - I want a gamble dog that can weave this time, dagnabit! LOL

He is keeping more and more of his bars up here at home. He was having a horrible time a couple of months ago. I worked on it a little and it is helping. He was also running under the bars when they were up at 20" or 22" and he isn't doing that any more. He still needs to really KNOW that his job is to keep them up regardless of whether he is turning or whatever. I think he will get it, assuming I can be a good enough of a trainer to teach him that!

It will be so nice to have a dog that I won't have to drag around the ring :-) I love my little Luce, but if she is stressed or it is hot out, then I have to drag her around. SO frustrating! We sort of fell between the cracks at Keystone when I got her and we didn't have the foundation classes then as we do now. And the kids were home, so her prime years were "wasted". Not really "wasted" as I did want to go and watch what the boys were doing! But I couldn't get to class or train as often as I should have with her.

I taught with Kruisin for almost 2 years which also caused a break in training. I love teaching, I really find it rewarding. But I am not a high energy person so no way could I be out of the house too many nights a week. I was teaching Monday nights and I worked late on Thursday nights, so going to class on Wednesdays was out. I didn't even pay for a training spot at Keystone in 2006 and 2007 as I had only gone to class 8 times in 2005. That didn't help one bit and we lost some of our skills and our teamwork. I stopped teaching at the end of 2007 and started training again in 2008 and it has really helped.

Usually, nowadays, we lose Q's due to obstacle non performance .... we get all the hard parts of a course but then miss weaves, pop out of weaves there for a while, or miss a contact. She has an aversion to yellow at times :-) Now, having a slower dog does help for some of the courses does help :-) I fully comprehend that I am not god's gift to handling, but I am happy when I do recognize what I need to do and what I would do with a Blazing fast dog.

And then I do have my mis-handling moments. They always seem to happen in slo-mo with a huge N-N-O-O running through my head and my feet rooted to the spot. That part of my brain in the back there, watching and knowing exactly what I should be doing, but the rest of my brain and my body just not following through! Occasionally I totally handle something wrong and the "right" way didn't occur to me. I expect that will happen more with Blaze as he is so different that it will be like starting all over again when I couldn't "see" angles and such.

Anyway, back to watching the streaming video ... man, the handlers can, and must, RUN! I think all of the top dogs have running contacts as well ... don't think I want to go there! I am not Nationals material, so I think I need to train for being the Weekend Warrior which means stops on the contacts for me :-) If the Nationals moves to the East Coast, as is the rumor, I would like to go just for the experience and the fun and to watch the truly fantastic competition. It was wonderful back in 2005, but I didn't have a dog with me so I was free as a bird. Rumor has it that Nationals might move in 2009 already .... that is too soon! LOL

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Still snowing!!!

It is still snowing - this is about what we got all of last year :-)
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Snow in October!!!
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Black Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan
Originally uploaded by dognutmom
Apropos of nothing, other than it is now fall and chilly outside and this reminds of the summer which is when it was taken :-)

Also, it was time to update the blog :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

tall purple flowers

tall purple flowers
Originally uploaded by dognutmom
My camera is "causing" me to learn names of the various things I take pictures of. I couldn't just leave this at "tall purple flowers".

I think it is Physostegia virginiana, aka Obediant Plant. So named because it apparently will stay in position if you turn the leaves or flowers in a certain direction. Also supposedly will stay in place if it is transplanted.

It is also known as False Dragonhead ... the flower is a little like a snapdragon. Apparently there is a flower in Europe that is the "real" dragonhead.

Whatever, they were pretty purple flowers :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Lots of kids here. I'm going to have to remember binoculars for graduation. :-)
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College Student

Evan is now a college student!
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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Koi Pond 2008

Hugh is still keeping his koi pond. He even found a baby koi in there yesterday. No, I didn't get a picture.

Earlier in the season some of the waterlillies were blooming. A white one:

And a red one:

This is a water hyacinth - they float with their roots in the water instead of in soil.

Boy, oh, boy, THAT was a lesson in not putting things off. I passed by the pond one day and saw one hyacinth in full bloom. And even though that I should get a picture of that but I put it off. Next day it rained and I didn't want to take my camera outside and the day after that, the bloom was done. ::::sigh::::

We also have a few frogs hanging around.

Frog #1:

Frog #2:

And, yes, there are still koi in the pond :-)

Here is a black and orange one eating:

And an orange one eating. It is hard to get a decent picture of the fish just swimming around, so koi eating pics are a little more numerous:

And "Skull Head" eating.

"Skill Head" is mostly white, but the markings on his head makes it look like a skull:

The fish not only like fish food, but they like algae. Apparently, they like it alot :-)

Blaze Update

Blaze has been home since Wednesday morning and is doing pretty good.

He was tired for most of that day, but perked up by Thursday night. The first 7 to 10 days are the most critical as that is when most of the heartworms will be dying off, so we aren't falling for his perkiness :-) He gets to stay out of the crate if we are around, but at the first sign of trying to play or getting too excited or agitated, back into the crate he goes.

Luce has been trying to get him to play, so they are BOTH confused :-) Luce sits by his crate sometimes, wondering why he is in jail.

For the most part, however, he is fine with all of this but I don't think this will go on for the entire 4 weeks that he needs to be quiet. Fortunately, he is quiet in the crate while I am at work.

Luce and I have been going for a walk a lot too ... she is used to more activity since we got Blaze.

So, only 3-3/7 weeks to go.


Our front lawn has never been the greatest due to all of the trees, and since we got Blaze last year, it couldn't even be called a "lawn" any more.

This little bluebird came to visit us back in May. As you can see, our "lawn" was really just some dirt with a few tufts of grass.

Whorls of dust kicked up whenever Blaze and Luce ran on it.

Well, back at the end of June, beginning of July, Evan did a lot of raking and then grass seed and top soil was put down.

Slowly and surely, the grass began to grow.

The result is this!

It's actually GREEN!

And now that Blaze is sidelined due to heartworm, this section is to be done next. This is Luce getting a head start on the raking :-)


Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Job!

Son #1 Graduated from college mid-May and has been looking for a job ever since.

Son #2 on left, Son #1 on right

Have to say he was getting a little down about it .... the job market for Economics majors is tight.

But he got a job!! It isn't exactly what he hoped he would be doing, but it is not in retail, and it is a job!!! He starts next week.

Big sigh of relief :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blaze .... unhappy

Blaze on the bed
Originally uploaded by dognutmom
This is kind of representative of how Blaze feels right now.

Blaze came up positive for heartworm at his annual checkup in June. Apparently it takes 6 months after infestation for the test to turn positive. So ... he either was infected before he hit the shelter, in the shelter or at his foster home in West Virginia.

Blaze had his first shot of imiticide yesterday at our vet. My vet isn't staffed 24 hours a day so I then transported him to the emergency vet down the road for overnight observation. Picked him up again this morning and brought him back to our vet for the second shot. Now he is at the emergency vet for overnight observation again. He can come home in the morning if all goes well tonight.

He seemed perky yesterday and this morning, but he was not himself when I transported him this evening. I think his back is sore from the two shots ... and he is confused and doesn't understand why I keep leaving him places.

Little does he know that the worst is yet to come. Crate rest or on leash next to me. No running. No jumping. No playing. No Ball.
For. 4. weeks.

He is not going to be a happy camper.

Red Umbrella

Red Umbrella
Originally uploaded by dognutmom
Just because ....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Identity Crisis?

Identity Crisis? Sort of on an identification mission around here.

I think this is Euonymus kiautschovicus "Manhattan"

Bumble Bee

One website said the fruit was a pale pink capsule and I do have some pictures of those. Need to get them uploaded ... thought I had one. But another site said it had red berries that came from the pink capsule and I just don't remember! I only pass this bush next to the front door every single day!! :-)

The tall shrubs/bushes on the creek side of the house are, I'm pretty sure, Euonymus Altus

red berries

I do know that these bushes are similar but not quite the same. Need to research more but have to go to work.


Apparently there are a lot of plants and weeds that are considered invasive to North America.

They also seem to have ended up in my backyard.

wineberry fruit

These can take over a yard with the canes growing quite long. They are also covered in prickly thorns. The fruit is usually used for wine or jellies as it is tarter than other raspberry type plants.

Had to look this one up yesterday:

Solanum dulcamara
Solanum dulcamara

The purple flowers will turn into green berries which will then turn to red.

Also known as Bittersweet or Trailing Nightshade. This one is a noxious plant with berries that only birds can eat.

Indigenous to North America, but certainly invasive in our yard is Poison Ivy.
Leaves of Three, Let Them Be
Leaves of Three, Let Them Be

Not truly an Ivy, but it does grow up trees, seeming to strangle them.
slowly strangle

More Hostas

The other hosta plant is in full bloom.

The late afternoon sun lit it up perfectly
host bloom stalk

Used my new lens, but had to contort myself to get a better angle
host bloom stalk closer

hosta bloom closeup

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


One of the few things I can manage to grow without killing them. I need to get more.

Took this on the weekend and now (Wednesday) the blooms are gone
hosta bloom

The stages of hostas