Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dally's Journey So Far

Bright and early Monday morning, Dally and her crew (Scribbles, Keebler, Gus, Hope, and Aussie) hit the road West towards Reno, Nev., with Roger at the wheel. The set-up in the Rav4 was this: crates piled on top of the car, Keebler (Pembroke with a tail) and Scribbles (French Bulldog) harnessed in the front seat, Gus (Papillon) and Aussie (Australian Shepherd) in their respective crates in the back, and Dally and Hope (Pembroke) loose in the back. Yep...six dogs, one man. He's a patient man!
Here's the map of Roger's drive from Columbus, Ohio, to Reno: http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=3785+Timberland+Drive,+Columbus,+OH+43230&daddr=1350+North+Wells+Avenue,+Reno,+NV+89512&hl=en&sll=40.072985,-82.9164&sspn=0.009967,0.022724&geocode=FRl3YwId0MsO-ykd_XiWooo4iDHIqUJ9eZF0qw%3BFaleWwIdRPjb-CkfM1TCREeZgDEjhOSBkSGZJQ&mra=ls&t=m&z=5

Monday, the first part of the trip, saw Roger drive from Columbus to North Platte, Neb., where he finally stopped after perhaps a 17-hour drive, and stayed at a La Quinta Inn and enjoyed a jacuzzi. Bright and early this morning, it took him an hour to walk the dogs and pack up the crates and the dogs in car, then off he went, driving through parts of Wyoming (where, by the way, gas is $3.34 a gallon), and into Utah. He stopped tonight in Salt Lake City, where he could stay at a La Quinta (that, thankfully, allows him in one room with six dogs!) and relax before tackling the last 8 hours to Reno. Which is a good thing, because I just got a notice on my Weather Bug app on my iPhone that there is a wind advisory for Reno and surrounding areas tomorrow--he'll need all the strength he has to drive into that!
Speaking of weather and Reno...trying to pack for this thing, in only one small suitcase, is hard!! I checked the extended forecast for Reno and I'd like to know how it can be in the 50s and snowing!? Seriously! I'm not joking... The highs while we're there range from 50s and low 60s, with the lows in the 30s. Crazy times! Plus, I was reminded by a friend that lives in Reno that the air is thinner since they are up in the mountains. It will be interesting to see how I handle the thinner air while doing agility (sprints) and when Camille and I attempt to run at least once for my half marathon training. It'll be more interesting to see how the dogs handle the thinner air, though. I don't know if I see a difference, but that'll definitely be something I'm going to look at and maybe try to talk to some handlers about how the thinner air affects their dogs.
More to come....I'm counting down the hours until I'm in the air and flying to my Corg!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dally's Bags Are Packed...

Well, Dally's bags are packed... She's had her toenails have Dremeled, her toe hairs trimmed, and her dirty rough scrubbed to a brilliant white. She's had her last chiropractor appointment. She's as ready as she'll ever be for the AKC National Agility Championships.

We're heading to Cincy later today to meet with Dally's ride to Reno--a couple from Columbus, Ohio, who are also competing at Nationals. Elissa runs a brindle French Bulldog named Scribbles (#1 Frenchie at the AKC Invitational) and her husband, Roger, runs a Pembroke (with a tail) named Keebler. Elissa is an animal behaviorist and Roger is a chiropractor (perfect combo, right??). Dally will be riding with Keebler, Scribbles, Gus (Camille's dog, who they are also picking up at Queen City), another Pembroke named Hope, and an Australian Shepherd...all in a Toyota Rav 4! Roger will be heading West early Monday morning and hopes to make the trip in three 12-hour sections--depending on the weather (it's a 36 hour drive to Reno from Columbus).

I'm more nervous, right now, about sending Dally off with them. I'm just nervous about how she'll react to me "abandoning her" with these two "strangers" and how she'll handle all the other dogs that are riding with her to Reno, let alone all the dogs at Elissa and Roger's place. Call me overprotective, but I just worry she'll be overwhelmed and upset. But, I think she'll be OK once she gets into a routine with Roger and the other dogs.

All I know is I'll be counting down the days until Thursday, when I fly out to Reno with Camille and we meet back up with Roger and the pups. I'm not going to want to let go of Dally once I see her!!

I'll keep you updated on how things go...Elissa will be updating us on Facebook when she hears from Roger, so I'll be glued to Facebook more than I already am.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Corgi and Vallhund Fun in the Mud

Friday evening was so gorgeous for us that we just had to take the Stump Kids to Veteran's Park to enjoy one last fun walk with Dally before she heads towards Reno. We had some rain earlier in the day, so we knew that it would be a muddy walk. But that's OK...Dally and LaMesa love the mud, and we have shoes that are alright with getting muddy.

The trail took us all around the park, along a larger creek, which Dally tried to start swimming in (but I didn't want anything to happen right before Nationals, so no swimming for this trip). It's a great park that a lot of people frequent, but there are so many trails that you don't have to spend the entire trip avoiding people. When we get to a certain point, we like to let the girls off leash so they can run around and take in the different views. They love to run around, roll in anything smelly, wading in the mud... You get the picture.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photos from Louisville 2012

Thanks to Merinda, I was able to get a couple of photos of Dally and LaMesa from the Louisville trial. These were fun photos that she chose that I have to say I love!

I always love a great teeter shot--I have a couple great ones of Dally already (including one from last year's Louisville trial, which catches the teeter just about to hit the ground and Dally's ears perked up), but this one has to be the best:

The photographer caught the teeter perfectly level, even though Dally's pushing it down. Love it!!

She looks like the fastest Corgi on the dog walk! LOL Love it!

And I always love LaMesa's photos because she always looks like she's having the time of her life out there (and I really think she is):

Her dog walk photo--maybe a little look of concern here, but I think it's because I'm trying to slow her down to hit the contact at the bottom.

Remember how I said she was all sorts of pumped up in Standard? Here's photographic proof that she was pumped up! Look at her body position--like she's about to just explode off that table!

I just have having photos like these. Sure you have the videos, but the stop action that shows are expressions is even better!

The countdown is on for Nationals...Dally went to the Corgi Chiropractor last night and also got to participate in some of our class last night (more on that in the next post). She has one more chiropractor appointment on Friday, a bath on Saturday, and then Sunday I take her up to Cincinnati to meet with her ride. I'm already starting to get nervous about her trip and how she'll handle it. I just want to keep hugging her when I see her...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Louisville - 4 Year Trial Anniversary

Four years ago I travelled to Louisville for the big Kentuckiana Cluster for my very first AKC agility trial with my parents and Dally in tow. I was excited, and maybe a little nervous, and Dally didn't really seem to care either way. I vaguely remember walking the courses what seemed like hundreds of times, each, and worrying about how Dally would handle the weave poles, but that's about it. I do remember walking away with three blue ribbons (we Qd and won our jump height in Nov STD and JWW on Saturday and Nov STD on Sunday--I didn't enter her in Nov JWW on Sunday, and I think the reasoning was because she wasn't consistent in her weaves...don't ask, I couldn't tell you how that made sense four years ago). After that, I was hooked, and it began a journey that you are currently following now.

Flash forward to 2012, and I drove to Louisville with Merinda for one day of running only. I mostly entered the trial so LaMesa's breeder could finally get to watch her run live, and Dally got a last minute entry when she didn't make it into the Queen City trial and I wanted to run her one more time before Nationals. I was just crossing my fingers that LaMesa handled the insanity decently (it's a three-ring trial with tons of people and dogs--it can be very stressful for any dog, let alone LaMesa, who easily stresses before any run no matter what). I had hoped for a QQ from Dally to add to our tally, as well as some PACH points, but mainly I just wanted two solid runs from her.

Let's focus on the positives first. LaMesa was a little rock star! She ran a great Excellent A Standard course, nailing the tunnel/A frame discriminations both times. She was so pumped up that when she got on the table she started barking at me, almost jumping off too early! After the table was the weaves, and unfortunately, momma messed her up by crowding too close to the entrance, so we missed it. Not a problem, I pulled her back and she nailed the entrance a second time and finished great! She ran a fast 50 second run that would have put her on top of her Exc A height class and in the top 10 for the Exc B 12s! I was very proud of her.

Debbie finally got to watch LaMesa run live during her Open Jumpers course. It had been a long day for us, but she handled the course (and all three pinwheels) beautifully--even nailing her weave pole entrance the first time! We had one refusal, which might have been caused by me leaving a jump too early, but she ran great and stayed strong throughout the course. I was a very happy momma! This earned her third place and her Open Jumpers title, which means she's now in Excellent A for both, and we no longer have conflicts between her and Dally! Yay!

Her Jumpers run was the only one that was able to be recorded (Louisville is too crazy to try to figure out who is recording who and when):

You know how I said, "Let's focus on the positives first"? Well....then there were Dally's runs....

Dally started out her Standard run in typical fashion, running well and happy. We were doing fine until I tried to throw in a front cross too early, caught myself, and tried to save the refusal. I don't know if the judge called it or not, but it didn't matter, since when she got on the table, she stood there for two seconds then promptly trotted off to smell a sandbag. I was totally shocked--she's never done that before! I called her back to the table, and after a moment of her saying, "No," she hopped back on and we finished the course in good speed. No worries...I shrugged it off with a laugh and moved on (I had to run LaMesa after that anyway).

Jumpers, though, totally concerned me. When it was finally our turn, I thought all was well and that we were fine--she warmed up fine, got revved up in good shape, no worries. The timer calls "Ready!" and I take off like normal. Dally, though, doesn't... She trotted up and over the first jump, did the same for the second, then promptly stopped. She stood there and looked at me. I went back to try to rev her up again to run and have fun, she walked a couple of steps and that was it...we were done. I thanked the judge, picked her up and walked out. She didn't seem sore or injured...didn't seem stressed or upset... I have no clue what that was all about. All I know is that it left me in pure shock.

How can this happen two weeks before we're supposed to be competing at the AKC National Agility Championships? An event in which you had to be on your game and qualify? We didn't look like a nationals-caliber team out there.

My friends told me not to panic--Dally's thrown her "Corgi attitude" at me before, and bounced back just fine. I should be used to it all, right? Sure, but it doesn't make the stress decrease any before Nationals...

This evening we're headed to the chiropractor for a check to see if she's out badly or extremely sore, followed by one last class before Dally heads West. LaMesa pulled up lame yesterday, so I'm just about out of luck it seems.

More on that tomorrow...

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Letters T & H

This post has been brought to you by the letters "T" and "H" and my friend Melanie who has been teaching us in our agility classes exercises we can do working through jumps formed in these letters.

LaMesa's been the one who has been worked the most on these exercises, which are from the book "Alphabet Drills," because they're basic foundation exercises that she can reap the most rewards from. When we work on these drills it's a lot of repetition, something Dally doesn't like and gets frustrated quickly with, so I typically work with Mesa during class on these drills to get instruction from Melanie, then after class I run Dally through them a couple of times, just to see how she'd handle things. Most of the time she handles them very well--though she is a totally different dog than LaMesa in many ways, one being that you don't do rear crosses with Dally because she's very rarely ever running ahead of you. (I think I tried a rear cross with her in a trial once, and it was because we were running at an even pace and I couldn't get in position fast enough for a front cross--it wasn't a pretty rear, but we handled it.)

Thanks to my half marathon training, I've been home more lately because I've been doing a lot of my running in the morning--leaving the evenings after work for quick gym sessions. Now with daylight savings time, it stays light longer, so I can come home, walk the dogs with Matt, work LaMesa on a couple of things in the back yard, then fix dinner. I love that! I'm definitely not looking forward to when sand volleyball starts and I have to work at least three nights a week--that means I have to rely on Matt to walk the girls and Mesa can only be worked on my lunch hour.

So, anyway, thanks to these Alphabet Drills, I'm able to figure out what I can do with the two jumps I have (one borrowed from Merinda, which I'm sure she's going to want back very soon) in our tiny back yard that can help LaMesa improve.

Last night we worked on rear crosses (it was discovered in class on Wednesday that I use my arms very awkwardly when doing rear crosses because I really am not good at rear crosses...yet) around a jump standard, as well as sending out for 270s. LaMesa's getting the hang of the 270s, but we still need to work on her driving out and around. Dally did pretty well with them, but I still have to go deep into the corners with her--something I wish I didn't have to do, but it's most likely too late to teach her that before Nationals (two weeks away!! ACK!).

For the rear crosses, it's frustrating to me how much I have been mishandling the rear cross with LaMesa. I feel like we're back at the very beginning of agility training for her. I'm hoping if we work on this consistently, we'll get back to being more of a team--after all, she is now in Excellent A Standard (one leg needed to finish her Open Jumpers title)--so we shouldn't be running like Novices still...should we? (I know, I know...she's only 2, but I can't help but feel we should be a better team than we are right now, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Dally and I are such a team--but we're also celebrating our 4-year trial this weekend in Louisville, and LaMesa has only been competing since June 2011. PATIENCE, Megan, PATIENCE!)

So we'll continue to work on the basics at home, thanks to the letters "T" and "H." I'll let you know what letter we work on next week, and see if we have any improvement on the basics in front of Melanie. Until then, we head to Louisville for the Kentuckiana Cluster on Saturday only. Report to come.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stump Tweets

Watch out, Twitter land! The Stump Kids are on Twitter!!

That's right, in a fit of boredom/wanting to spice things up, my friend and I conspired to create Dally and LaMesa's own Twitter account (thanks to the inspiration from Cee-Lo's cat on "The Voice"). There might be some snarky comments from the Corgi (as she can only recite), and maybe some random bits from the Vallhund, but it should be fun!

Dally will also keep her fans (because she knows she has a lot of them) informed of her roams across the country to Reno, Nev., for the 2012 AKC National Agility Championships, as well as any other trips or activities she goes on.

So, if you have Twitter, please follow @TheStumpKids! It should be a good time!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekend Work

This weekend was full of work for the Stump Kids--a beautiful weekend tends to do that when we're not at an agility trial. Saturday saw the girls in action at the BFO practice field working on weave pole entries at full speed (which is hard to get for Mesa when we work in the back yard or in the park, even) and different jump sequences with more than two jumps.

Mesa has been having some issues with her weave entries lately, once again, so I've been trying to work on those when she's coming off of tunnels or jumps, just like she would at a trial. I'm tempted to go back to the first couple of parts of the 2x2 weave pole training series to help with that, and might in April, when we're not scheduled for any trials and we can just concentrate on the basics and prepare to hit the summer trials. (I've heard it's best to not trial when you have to go back to the basics on certain manuevers like contacts, etc.)

So we worked on some weaves, which Mesa handled wonderfully! I also got to work her on a few jump sequences that I've seen at trials lately--she's in Excellent Standard now, so we need to work on harder sequences and accuracy. She handled everything like a pro, only running and barking at other dogs at the field a couple of times. (Note: I don't really work at the BFO field that much any more for personal reasons, however I appreciate having the ability to train my dogs in a different location than normal--Mesa needs that right now, Dally's past worrying about that. The distractions at the field is great for working with novice dogs because they need to learn to focus on you and not the distractions.)

Dally got some work in, too, with some weave poles and some short sequences just to have some fun. While we're preparing for Nationals in a couple of weeks (can you believe that!?), I need to focus on her drive and her fun with agility, so we don't need to work on sequence after sequence after sequence--that's not fun for her, so right now we aren't doing it.

Sunday we enjoyed a gorgeous March day and took a walk around The Arboretum on UK's campus. It's nice to be able to take the girls some place different to walk so we have a different view and different smells. We also took the opportunity for some photos, as you'll see below.

After some yard work (with and without the girls' help), Mesa and I set up the two jumps in the back yard to work on our homework from class on Wednesday--the letter "T" from the "Alphabet Drills" book. After working on her coming in parallel to my leg on a tight front cross, we worked on sends over the two jumps (in a straight line and in curves). I also worked on some gymnastics with Mesa--setting up the two jumps so she had to do a bounce (jump, land, jump) to work on her form towards the end of our work. She tends to lose her form when she tires during trials, so I need to work on that a lot.

So, all in all, a great weekend and we got a lot accomplished!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tennie Time!!

The temperatures are getting warmer (as if this hasn't been an oddly-warm winter anyway) and it's starting to stay light later (yay!), so we've been doing more walks in the park after work and after I get back from the gym.

The girls especially love when we walk by the tennis courts because they can always find a rogue tennis ball nearby that they try to steal (and some times we let them).

Their most absolute favorite thing is to play "tennie ball." Dally always loved it, and I guess she passed it onto LaMesa.

So I've included a video to show them playing tennie yesterday, with a brand new ball LaMesa stole from the tennis courts (mind you, we have a whole bag/box full of tennis balls thanks to the annual Doggy Paddle). And, yes, it was warm enough on Wednesday that Matt was wearing shorts and a T-shirt!