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