Gusventure 2017

I wanted to get the dogs back to the beach before the playoff game today. The weather is supposed to be bad for us tonight but it was clear early this morning so off we went. Gus looked so happy it brought a smile to my frozen face. The only problem with the beach in the winter is that cars are allowed on the beach until April. There is always some idiot that tries to drive 50 mph on the water, the others just park their cars and sit in the cars at the beach. Really, are you so lazy you can't even get out of your car? Why are you at the beach if you aren't going to bother getting out of your car? One guy must have slept in his car because the tires were pretty deep in the sand, I'm sure he got stuck but I wasn't going to wake the guy up. People are so strange. Gus looked like he knew he was at the beach this time, he did get knocked over by a tiny little wave and I had to help him up but he made it back to the car on his own.


Got pictures of Lucy this week since last week's were non existent. She's going to be 11 in April, I'm so thrilled with how she looks.


The younger two found something delightful to roll in, too bad I can't do scratch and sniff for this blog, it was just amazing. We had to stop at a self wash place on the way home.

Next weekend we will seek out some snow because there is none around here anywhere.

Gusventure 2017

I love the beaches in the PNW. Wide swaths of uninhabited sand. I thought there would be more people at the beach this weekend, but it was a bit chilly so that probably kept the New Year's partiers away. Gus is my only dog that truly loves the beach. He doesn't swim any longer but that is probably a good thing. I walked the dogs separately so I could get some exercise. Gus lasted about 10 minutes and I had to carry him back to the car. At least he appeared to realize that he was at the beach. I'm guessing he would be just as happy at home and sleeping, but bringing him to his favorite places makes me feel better about him getting old. Would have been nice to get some pictures with my real camera but I forgot to charge the battery, oops. At least I had the GoPro with me.


Merlin, sort of posing:


Lucy, who still runs a lot at the beach, hence this fabulous picture:


The birthday dog, Konane. Since there is such a huge delay on the GoPro one can never be sure about what the camera will capture, but this was the lucky shot for the day. I didn't realize the water was reflecting the sky:


Konane turns six today. It's kind of hard to believe that she is six already. Time flies by so quickly, particularly for the dogs. I think both of the bitches have the best approach to life, carpe diem baby, bring it on 2017.



2016 FMBB World Championships

I've found the courses at this year's 2016 WAO to be not very interesting. Last year's courses looked like more fun, this year it looks more like Snooker. Multiple courses where the dogs have to bypass obstacles without the handler being able to create a suitable line for the dog to do so. I really don't mind courses where the dogs need to bypass obstacles, but I don't think that courses which require the dogs to essentially heel pass an obstacle are very fun. A few teams got through without losing speed but there were a lot of off courses. Having abandoned all viewing of the WAO, I started watching the 2016 FMBB World Championships instead (all belgians in multiple events, Mondio, protection, obedience, agility, cani-cross and cani-cross with mountain bikes). It's the Belgian olympic games. Now that event looks like fun, the agility was world class and on FCI courses. I really enjoyed watching this video, highly recommend watching from 3:30 to around 8:30. The dog fails his retrieve, probably because of the horrible weather conditions, and you can see the wave of emotion flood over the handler's face. The handler uses the next three exercises to build the dog's confidence back and they finish off strong. Great example of how to treat your dog from one of the best Mondio trainers in the world. Thinking I might need to start looking for another belgian and try this out sometime. Doesn't require running around so it might be the next dog activity.

Where is everybody?

I took the day off of work yesterday because it was my birthday. I always try to take my birthday off because it just seems wrong to be at work on one's birthday. It was proclaimed Geezer Day so I medicated Gus heavily so that he could run and took Gus and Lucy to the beach. Mid afternoon on a Friday, I figured the beach would be crowded but it was completely empty. I guess everyone thought that everyone was going to be at the beach so no one was there? The weather was perfect so it was a lovely day at the beach. I have a feeling that Gus won't be able to run by my next birthday, or he might not even be around, so the mission was to get him out doing what he loves most.


I figured that the entry would be lower for the WTT this weekend, but where are all the small dogs? That class is shrinking rapidly. It's never been the biggest class but the number of entries used to fill a page. There aren't very many midi dogs either. I'm not surprised that half of the dogs are from California, but there are a lot of top teams missing from the tryout. I wonder if the EO tryout remains separate and with minimal qualification standards that we will continue to see the same kind of numbers. Oh well, will probably try and catch some of the VOD later today, the courses should be excellent.

Dog Hoarder

I guess I've acquired the reputation of being a dog hoarder. In the past month I've been asked if I was getting another puppy soon, huh? I had Cru at the RAT trial last weekend and someone else thought he was my dog, huh? Granted, 4 dogs is a lot of dogs for just me but I think all 4 have a great quality of life and get a lot of attention. Just not sure how the perception got out that I am a dog hoarder. I'm certainly not the type of owner who would test a dog for a bit and pass the dog on if it doesn't meet my expectations for whatever I think I need. I'll also confess that I LOVE dogs. I love dogs and all that they do for us. We train and ask them to perform completely unnatural tasks just because we have decided that said tasks are FUN. Agility in a crazy noisy stressful environment is supposed to be FUN. Visiting sick kids at the hospital is supposed to be FUN. Doing a directed retrieve with a ton of people watching is supposed to be FUN. Dogs rock, that is all. They do whatever we ask of them because they have good souls. My dogs never cease to amaze me, I'm appreciative of all that they are willing to do, and if I'm perceived as a dog hoarder I just think that there are way worse addictions to have.

I did run Cru last weekend. He's another amazing dog, I feel completely comfortable running him and am grateful that I am trusted to do so. Got his second GP q, I think he's all set for Cynosport now. My dogs did great as well. I am so past outcome expectations at this point in my life that I just go out and enjoy the ride. These creatures just blow my mind, that is all.

"Now try the...."

We ventured down to Northern California for three days with the OMD pack. Most excellent seminar. I was really impressed. I worked with Mikko for two days and Tuulia for one. Unfortunately there were a few schedule changes because the flu hit the instructors so there were emergency fill ins but everything worked out. We asked Mikko where his wedding band was on the first day, he proceeded to show us his OMD bracelet and started laughing, so we could already tell we were going to have a good time. Mikko is all about precision and details. We did Technique Applications the first day, which was great so I could get the verbage down and work Merlin on shorter sequences. Merlin worked most of the drills which were really challenging and great little exercises to take home. The OMD system requires precision handling, not sure if I'm up for all of the moves but some of the skills are quite handy and not at all in conflict with Merlin's Shape Up foundation. My guess is that the majority of agility competitors just don't need these skills for US style courses. You have to be able to run and have the physical skill to pull off these moves, because the timing just has to be perfect. I do now understand why OMD has a cult following, the biggest emphasis is on connecting with your dog on course rather than following any rules, and who doesn't want to achieve that irrespective of your handling system. I do love Merlin's trained threadle so there is basically no way I am going to start doing the "Flick" or "Reverse Wrap" with him. I just avoided the portions of the courses which needed these maneuvers and worked Kona instead. Mikko is their front cross king so that was the first drill. Where to look, when to turn, where to go next, what direction your feet should be in and when to do it. The OMD Front cross is a completely thought out process. I clearly haven't perfected my front crosses but Merlin looked better by the time we were done. Everyone stood up to watch and learn for this portion of the seminar, because the front cross is an overlooked art form.

And running on the dog's line. Mikko showed us how to get through this push through drill with more speed and accuracy. I'm just glad I didn't take out the instructor. He ran a dog he's never met before through this drill and of course it was a thing of beauty.

And Japanese turns. "If you can do three or four in a drill one on a course is easy." I could not complete this drill.

The second day with Mikko was course work. I was the only person in my group who was just a hobbyist and not a multiple time world team member so I really benefitted from the opportunity to watch the best of the best. I also didn't feel so bad when we missed some incredibly tricky weave pole entries because everybody in the group did. The weave pole grab is an amazing skill but the chances of me getting into such perfect position in the middle of the course is essentially 0. My thought on the weave pole grab is just train the entries so you don't have to help your dog get in the poles :) I also think Mikko has some strange psychic skill because every time my brain started drifting I heard "CONNECT WITH YOUR DOG." So very basic.

We did course work with Tuulia on Sunday. I really liked working with her, she had great explanations for body mechanics that were just crystal clear. Where to look, what your head and feet should be doing, when to turn. She made some minor alterations for a few of the participants and the change was remarkable. I worked Merlin on half of the course and Kona on the other half. When they say the OMD coaches will keep making you run until you run clean they are not kidding. I finished up one run with Kona, could barely breathe, and Tuulia said "now try the reverse spin here, take out the Jaako there and do a Whiskey turn there...GO!" I just thought, not sure if I can make it through again.

Sunday was all about perfecting the Lap turn, it worked great for both dogs and definitely a skill I'll keep and hone further. I need to give my dogs more space to execute their turns and all will be fine. The other skill to hone is the Flip turn for handling discriminations. I could pull it off for Merlin but couldn't quite get the timing down for Kona.

Great seminar. Would definitely go back, being challenged and coached by the best handlers in the world was time and money well spent. Not going to start wearing black clothing with the One Mind Dog logo but have definitely been made a believer of "Connect, Commit, Cue."


Wow, haven't posted for a long time. The weather gods smiled upon me yesterday so we had terrific weather for a winter puppy party. Another group of very nice and well socialized puppies. I think it's so important for dogs to mingle at an early age, they don't need to play with each other if they don't want to, but they do need to learn to coexist. Plus it's just fun watching them run around. 3 bcs, Aussie with a tail (yea!), sib and a maltese. Plus Cru and Merlin because they both like puppies. Cru was here for the weekend mainly so he could play at the puppy party. Desiree is teaching a seminar somewhere so we thought it would be a good idea. It's always interesting how much he changes the dynamic of my pack, things generally look like this:


Beamer (Double J Klepto x Lexi) arrived first. I'm surprised at how big he is but he has Klepto's head. Great dog, his owners said he was "noise sensitive" but he was having too much fun to care about the noise.


Agent, the sib puppy, definitely got the cute award. Don't get to see many sib puppies, SO CUTE:


Joule, Gin and Zuki having fun:

Not completely thrilled with my pictures, not quite enough light for my telephoto lens. I can't really justify spending a lot of money for a portrait lens, so I started looking around for a used one. Need more f-stops.

It's a wrap

Fun fun fun UKI trial yesterday wrapped up our competition year. Kona was a bit naughty but considering she hasn't been training I'm not too surprised. Merlin was awesome, he got better with each run, very happy with how he did. No video as the first person I asked for our first run said "no" and I got discouraged so I didn't ask anyone else for the rest of the day. Not sure why I feel uncomfortable asking people to tape me, it isn't like I haven't had a recording device shoved in front of my face on multiple occasions. Oh well, should have brought the GoPro.

No agility until the spring. Rolling out of bed on cold dark rainy winter mornings is enough of a challenge. I like giving my dogs a break and only hope that the tactic will prolong Kona's agility career. Merlin is much more sensible with his body, but he's structurally disadvantaged so I worry just as much about him. It would be nice to keep them sound and able to compete until they are 9 or 10, not the 7 or 8 that seems to be the norm these days.

The qualifiers for the US Open were raised again. Really kind of ridiculous to have to qualify for Speedstakes and Games now, plus get a bunch of byes. I'm thinking the big trip for the year will be the Canadian classic, who wants to come? 11 runs, international judge and outdoors in Alberta in August. I think this will be our big trip for the year, forget the US Open and Cynosport :)

http://canadian classic dog agility

and Christmas is upon us. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever is politically correct to say to everyone. I get to hang out, eat and watch basketball all day long. Hopefully Steph Curry and Lebron James will put on a good show.

2015 US Open

Home from the 2015 US Open. I really enjoyed the event again this year. Fortunately I have a dog that can tolerate the stress of air travel so I have the option of participating in an event such as this. The entries were down from last year, mainly because of Cynosport being held on this side of the country. Guessing that next year's entries will balloon again as Cynosport will be in Arizona and the US Open is rumored to be back in Perry, GA. Also rumored to be the weekend right after Cynosport, which makes attending both events highly unlikely for people from the West Coast who work, have financial constraints, and don't want to fly their dogs twice in a two week period. I really do like the course challenges, the length of day, the number of runs, 22 inch jump height and A frame height in UKI. I won't decide until the announcement is official, but more than likely I would focus on qualifying and getting to the US Open next year rather than Cynosport, and bringing two dogs. I did come away from this year's event with a list of things we need to work on. Unfortunately we don't see challenges like this in any other venue so I'm not sure how we'll be able to test these skills next year, but here is my random list for both of us.

1. Course walking
I had trouble remembering the courses after the morning walk thoughs. The complexity of this year's courses were such that you didn't have much time to perseverate about one section of a course during the 10 minute walk throughs. The decision needed to be made quickly because there were many handling decisions to be made for every course. I think I would spend more time looking at the courses and paths of travel before the walk throughs start in the morning. It's also pretty crowded, unlike our usual UKI trials at home with 5 of us walking a course. It was sometimes hard to see the lines through so many bodies.

2. Distance
Holy crap. Tim and Terry's courses had pretty normal US spacing. Lauren and Martin's courses were set to UK standards and the courses were long. Very long. Unfortunately the tremendous distances made it extremely difficult for turns to get cued well. You really needed to be able to run at this year's event, much more so than last year. I need to be in better physical condition to get my dogs through courses like this.

3. Skills
Mad skills. The dogs needed to be able to take only obstacles which were properly cued. There was a lot of running past obstacles or past jumps at full speed and admittedly a skill that I have with Merlin but not with Kona. The q rate for the 26 inch jump height class was always better than the 22 inch jump height class, and the fast dogs getting through in the 22 inch jump height class either had incredibly fast handlers or were incredibly well trained. There were only 2 or 3 clean jumping rounds out of 70 or so dogs in the 22 inch jump height class, we E'd in very good company.

4. Specialty jumps
I thought Lauren's course design was brilliant. She used the viaduct to add to the complexity of the courses. It never occurred to me that the viaduct can be used to block the dog's view of what is coming next and therefore limit handling options for the next sequence of obstacles. The ascending spread cost us dearly on all jumping courses. We'll just need to train the obstacle better, I had no choice but to keep my dog in full extension for every ascending spread and that needs to be improved upon. She did brilliant over the broad jump, but we had spent more time working on our broad jump skills this past year.

5. Snooker
By the time I ran snooker I couldn't really remember my plan. It was the end of the first day of competition and I was jet lagged. If we attend next year I'll fly out a day earlier to make the time change adjustment and let the dogs get more exercise. We had a real snooker course this year and I know we should have advanced to the Gamblers round, my fault.

6. Dog walks
I decided not to use our round 2 bye and entered the National round 1 because jumpers is usually a better warm up for us. That was stupid, won't make that mistake again. Kona only did 2 dog walks at the US Open, because we didn't advance in National Round 1 or in Biathlon. Both were good, a running and a stopped. We need both behaviors and I'm glad that we now have both.

A compilation video, of the things we did well and a couple of my favorite blooper moments. I really enjoy this event, so much thought and work is put into it. The main ring was completely broken down at the end of the morning runs (eg all equipment moved off), just so the main arena could get groomed for the "big" afternoon event. There is no other venue that would have the time to do this or make the effort to get the surface perfect for the dogs. The conditions are terrific thanks to Greg and Laura Derrett and Mike Padgett. I think it's mainly Mike that makes the conditions so optimal, he didn't even run a dog this year. Kona is already completely recovered from the trip. Me not so much. We get to train with Justine and Jessica next weekend, have another UKI trial next month and then will start the annual winter agility hibernation.

Never say never

Feels like a pretty crappy week for our little LJ community. Crap. I really thought Helen's cancer was survivable. She was stage III at presentation and there was a lot of hope after her surgery and initial chemo. Her cancer recurred early and then took over her body with a vengeance. Really the emperor of all maladies (, if you ever want to know more, read this). She will be dearly missed. I sent a donation to the USC cancer center, I think the best tribute to the "bad vegan" as she always called herself will be to make soup. My best soup recipes are from Helen. Will probably start with this one, I can't remember when she passed this one on to me:

This is my family’s favorite pea soup. I have been making this version for over 25 years. This tastes even better the next day and it is great over baked potatoes, too!
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8-10
1 cup green split peas
½ cup dried baby lima beans
¼ cup barley
8 cups water
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, chunked
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place split peas, lima beans, barley and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add bay leaves and celery seed. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients and cook for an additional 1 hour.
You can blend about 1/4 of the soup for a creamy texture. A hand blender works great!
Hints: If you want to make this without the lima beans, increase the split peas to 2 cups and reduce the initial cooking time to ½ hour. This freezes well and reheats well. For a delicious smoky flavor, try adding a couple drops of liquid smoke to the soup about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

RIP Helen. Your lack of verbal edit function will be dearly missed at the AKC agility trials.

Tomorrow is September 11. They say "never forget." Everyone remembers what they were doing on September 11, 2001. I was on the last leg of my road trip. I had taken a position at LA Children's and took 10 days to drive from Louisville to Los Angeles. September 11 was the last day I was on the road, traveling in my little CRV which was packed with stuff. Ally had the entire back section to herself and could lie in great comfort but the rest of the car was packed tight. I remember coming over the hill on the I-10 and started wondering where all of the traffic was. No one was on the road. I was busy listening to Harry Potter books on tape so I didn't bother turning on the radio. When I pulled into the driveway of the house I had rented in Studio City the neighbor from across the street introduced himself and told me what had happened. None of my stuff had arrived so I went to a nearby restaurant that had a tv and watched the news. Horrifying day, never to be forgotten.

I trained my dogs this afternoon for a distraction. Hard for me to say I'd never train a running dog walk again, but it's highly unlikely unless I get a 12 inch or smaller dog. I do know that I'll never have another dog as smart and physically talented as the imp. Why have 1 dog walk behavior when you can have 4? She actually did great this session, still needs a little work with the collection command but not bad. I'm always surprised when someone asks me how many times a week I train Kona's dog walk. I only train when the dog walk is dry, the ground is perfect, and I have enough time to set up a drill so this is the 6th session she's done like this this year. No wonder it's taken so long. Good dog.