Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fun Times at the NADAC Trial

This weekend the Stump Kids and I traveled just down the road to support a NADAC trial being held in Versailles. It has been 10 years since there had been an agility trial had been held in the Lexington area, so it was important for us to support the club putting it on.

We went to go play, since NADAC isn't a venue we normally trial in, but we've gone to play a couple of times and we always have a good time. Who knows...maybe we'll go to NADAC trials more, because they are a good group of people and the courses can be challenging, even at the novice level.

The one class that's definitely a keeper on our docket for NADAC trials--Tunnelers. It's a course with just tunnels. I ran it the first time with Dally last summer and she had an absolute blast! Saturday she earned her second Tunnelers Q with a first place, and so did LaMesa (though this was the first time I was brave enough to run her in this class--and it was a success)!

Dally - Novice Tunnelers

LaMesa - Novice Tunnelers

And then you have to be careful about doing other classes after Tunnelers, because your dog will get caught in the "Tunnel Vortex" during Touch N Go ...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is Your Dog Left- or RIght-Handed?

LaMesa finally got to be worked on by the chiropractor the other day. I had been thinking about just having Dr. Forry taking a look at her just as a precaution, especially since she's face-planted into the A-frame a few times.

She was in good shape--a little out in her pelvis and neck, and a few places on the left side of her spine. When Dr. Forry got to her neck/skull/axis, she noticed a tightness in the left side of her axis. She continued to massage that area she simply said, "Huh...that's....funny...." I wasn't sure if that was a positive "funny" or a negative "funny".

She explained that I happened to own a left-handed dog.

Is the reason why most tunnel photos I see of
LaMesa running with her left paw out is because
she's left-pawed?
You see, just as humans are left- or right-handed, so are animals. I knew this was true with horses because I've had horses that would have a harder time with one lead over another, but for some reason I never considered it a possibility with dogs. And, apparently, left-handed dogs are fairly rare. So of course, why wouldn't my chupacabra-honeybadger-baby-wolf-hybrid be one of those rarities?

So it has me that why I've had a harder time training LaMesa than I did with Dally? Does it affect their learning because I'm right-handed and training as such? It's an interesting question, but I have yet to find anything about how side preference affects agility training, or any training for that matter.

I did find an article on how you can test to see if your dog or cat is right- or left-pawed from the Daily Mail: Is Your Pet Right or Left Handed?

All About Paw Performance in Dogs

Back to the chiropractor appointment: Dr. Forry said LaMesa was tight all through her left side, and she was out in a few places on the left. But she was very complimentary of her muscle tone and shape, saying that'll keep her in good shape with agility.

Have you heard anything about right- or left-handed dogs and training? I'd love to read more about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We Finally (Actually) Did It! PACH Dally

Five years ago, I moved to Lexington from Oklahoma and needed to find a release for me and Dally's boredom. What started out as something to do to get us out of the apartment turned into so much more than I could ever imagine.

Starting out at 8-inches, Dally and I did well as we ventured up the ranks of AKC agility, but when we moved up to Excellent B, we struggled to be successful. While there might have been a few errors here and there, the majority of our issues was the standard course time. After a while I started taking her to a chiropractor, which then became a common occurrence because of the effort it took Dally to jump 8-inches. After some careful consideration and consulting friends and trainers, I moved down down to Preferred to jump 4-inches (which, at the time, meant starting back over in Novice) in June 2010.

But even that wasn't a simple solution--there were many times we couldn't put together two solid runs once we got back into Excellent B. We didn't double Q until July 2011, and boy was that a great feeling. It was with that first QQ that we started getting things together--Dally was moving faster (perhaps building more confidence? having more fun? jealousy over LaMesa starting to be worked more?) and we were starting to be a solid team. We ended up qualifying for the 2012 AKC National Agility Championships in Reno, Nev., and even made it to the Challenger Round. When it was announced that Preferred dogs had to get not only 6 QQs, but also 400 PACH points to qualify for the 2013 National Agility Championships, I thought there was no way we could do it...

But then we did. We squeezed in more trials than I swore to my then-fiance (now husband) I wouldn't do, but we got qualified in September. As we made our journey towards qualifying for Nationals, the idea of earning our PACH was actually becoming a reality.

I was lucky enough to earn our PACH a day after my friend, Libba, and her Polish
Lowland Sheepdog, Molly, earned their MACH. We've been training together
for four years.
I had never really thought about Dally and I earning the penultimate title in agility. When you saw MACH/PACH dogs, they were the fast, almost unbeatable least that's how I saw it. Yet I kept working at things with Dally, figuring out what worked best for her and how we could cut yardage. We might not be that perfect team, but we're starting to become pretty darn good.

Considering this was our teamwork two years ago:

And now, our PACH run:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

LaMesa Turns 3!

It's hard to believe, but LaMesa turned 3 years old today!

This was taken at her breeder's when I picked her up at 8 weeks.
She was quite concerned about moving to Kentucky.

I still feel very lucky to have gotten to meet and bring home my little chupcabra-honeybadger-baby-wolf-hybrid. She's always so happy to see me when I come home (even if I've only been gone a few minutes) and makes even the most stressful, irritating days so much better with all her loving.

She looked like a little baby bear when we first got her!

And while our training and trialing has been a test in my patience and positive thinking, I'm thankful for all the learning we're doing together--while I'm training her, she's training me!

We're still getting together as a team...check back next year!

She's been trialing for a year now, training for two. I've been told to be patient, that it'll all come together, and when it does we'll be a team to beat. So, we'll continue down our road. Let's just wait and see where we are when she turns 4.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back to Business

OK, back to agility business...

Dally and I have been hitting it hard--we're so close to finishing our PACH! Two weeks ago we were up in Springfield, Ohio, for a trial that I thought would culminate with us getting those final two QQs and 57 points needed. However, on our first run on Saturday, Dally hopped off the teeter and the teeter bounced up and hit her square on the badonk. I didn't realize she was hurt until after I sent her over the next jump and noticed she was three-legged. Talk about a gasper!

I carried her off the course and straight to Kim Wolfe, a trainer who is also a vet technician, and we checked her for an injury to her ACL--luckily that was alright. After a little massage, rest, and then some light walking, she was back to trotting on all four legs. We think it must have been just a stinger or something. I kept an eye on her and decided to give Jumpers a whirl later in the day, and she came back a rock star earning second and 10 points. Sunday we got QQ #19 and 32 more points, so now we're down to needing only one QQ and 16 points. I'm hoping we can get that this weekend at Queen City. That's basically like our home turf--that's where we got our first QQ last July, where we rack up the most points and QQ the most. So it's only appropriate we go for our PACH there.

For LaMesa, the Springfield trial saw some solid runs from her, but missed weaves were our downfall yet again...

We're seeing growth in our teamwork at the trials, but we just can't seem to get all the pieces to fall into place to Q. This past weekend I took her to Goose Creek to work on some courses and she was ON IT! I was so pumped! We were hitting our rear crosses, she was nailing tough weave entrances...everything. So I'm hoping we can carry that into Queen City and maybe celebrate a Q some time this weekend as well!

I promise I'll do better about updates!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Stump Kids Turned Ring Bearers

So I had promised that I'd be better about keeping the Stump Kids' blog updated...and then I failed for like a month. BUT, I had good reason--I got married in October! And, yes, the girls were part of our wedding--duh!

You see, when Matt proposed to me almost 3 years ago, he had LaMesa run up to me with the ring on a lanyard around her neck. So it was only appropriate that Dally and LaMesa were our ring bearers when we were married Oct. 6.

My friend, Julie, made the collars for the girls--I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, but upon inspiration from Pinterest, she was able to put together the perfect collars for them that wasn't too froufrou, but just enough to dress them up.

We had the girlfriend of one of Matt's groomsmen be in charge of the girls (she was dubbed "Pup Wrangler") in the back row and she waited until the words "May I have the rings please?" were spoken by our officiant (who was also my brother-in-law), and she released them to run down the aisle. Well...LaMesa sprinted down the aisle (after spending the whole ceremony barking trying to get to us) and Dally took her time trotting down the aisle (as only Dally could do). Then Merinda clipped a leash on LaMesa to keep her from jumping on me, while Dally got to wonder around during the rest of the ceremony (including doing her business behind the officiant...yes, she did...).

For a full recap of my wedding, you can check out my other blog.

Here are a few photos from friends and our photographer to share. Plus a video by a friend of the girls running down the aisle (thanks, Ian!).
Photo by Camille
Sophia was a great pup wrangler! (Here the girls were waiting for me
to walk down the aisle.)

Professional photo by Zimmerman Photography
LaMesa was so happy to be reunited with mom and dad!

Professional photo by Zimmerman Photography
I was so happy we incorporated the dogs into our wedding--
they're very special to me!