The October Whirlwind Tour

Busy. So busy. Doing agility with my dogs, recovering from doing agility with my dogs, starting a new venture, stressing about starting a new venture and fighting endless headaches. That last bit is literally, although it’s also somewhat figurative as well.

Not sleeping very well of late hasn’t made it any easier either.

Of course, there’s still been lot’s of hiking/walking time.

005 A friend asked where Brady was off to when I posted this on Facebook. He’s far off in the distance in this picture, laying down on the trail. Brady likes to observe. Part of observing is finding the right balance point, and then being very still and watching.

Not ready to discuss much of the new venture yet as still working on details. Quite excited about it though. A major new chapter in my life I think.

I will briefly discuss my new dentist. He’s really quite attractive.

After putting off going to the dentist for way too long due to the aggravating personalities and tactics employed by my prior dentist’s office, I faced down my reluctance and made an appointment. with a new dentist. Was convinced I was going to be severely chastised and would have to have some dramatic procedure. I was sort of right on the first, although the dentist and the staff were really very sweet about it, and nothing major on the latter. Did have to undergo a deep cleaning and saw two old fillings removed and replaced, The dentist also fixed two chipped teeth and told me I grind my teeth.

According to him, I am a really bad teeth grinder. This is interesting to me. Although not the first time a dental professional has told me this – I even have a mouth guard somewhere – no one involved in my life has ever told me I do this. Of course those that would know were usually deep into sleep or are currently unable to converse in human language. I suspect I actually grind during the day. I used to catch myself clenching my jaw tightly at work. I’m hoping that’s relaxed a lot in the past six months or so.

My attractive new dentist also left me with good-sized bruise on my mouth. I forgive him though because I’m a sucker for certain men with dark eyes and dark hair.

Apparently, most people at the agility trial this weekend just assumed I just had dirt on my face. Not sure what this says about the observational skills of the agility community.

And speaking of agility, currently nearing the end of the annual October Whirlwind Tour.

All of my favorite agility trials seem to fall in the month of October. I’ve entered my dogs in an agility trial every weekend this month.

I can’t possibly recount all of the agility fun so far this month, so instead will mention some of the highlights from this past weekend’s trial.

The Top Dog CPE trial in October is in among my top three favorite trials to attend. It’s also the trial where Youke had his debut. For those two reasons, I really, really wanted him to get a C-ATCH (fancy agility championship title) at the show last year. It wasn’t meant to be. So this year, when I saw that he could possibly earn his C-ATCH 2 at this trial, I was excited. Additionally, because I love this trial so much, I decided I’d bring Jasmine out of retirement and do a couple of runs with her.

Youke dd not get his C-ATCH 2 this weekend. He needed to get qualifying scores in his two standard runs and it didn’t happen. Despite a really nice run on Saturday, he opted for an off course tunnel entrance when I pushed too far on his line. On Sunday, I forgot about his new rule about no off-side weave entries. Of course, Youke qualified in nearly everything else. Oh well, I still had fun with him anyway and except for his obvious dislike of weaves, the pictures from the trial offer evidence that he was pretty happy too.

 I haven’t been taking Jasmine to many agility shows with the other dogs since retiring her officially in late June. While I’m sure she gets bored and lonely staying at home, coming to a trial and not doing much of anything can be boring too and doesn’t seem fair to her. At least at this venue the weather is typically quite a bit cooler and more comfortable and  I can let her run around with the other dogs to go sniff around and play.

The addition of Jasmine always adds a whole new dimension of energy to our dynamic. While I can take the other three out and about and everyone is generally calm and well-behaved, Jasmine just has a certain spark that changes everyone’s chemistry. Even at 12 years of age. no one brings the crazy like Jasmine can.

Youke, Brady and Camm spent a fair amount of ball playing time darting away from Jasmine when she she came barreling in at them. Jasmine doesn’t even like to play ball. But she does like to prove she’s all that with the younger dogs.

I entered Jasmine in two classes on Sunday. She was phenomenal. She ran one course in 21 seconds, and clean. She had the best run out of the four dogs in fact. She also proved she’s still my snooker queen with a lovely snooker run. Her fan club showed up too to give her scritches, cheese and lots of praise. I think Jasmine was a bit overwhelmed with all of the attention, although she was also clearly very happy about seeing her peeps.

I’ve missed running her. Maybe more so because there was a time when running with her was excruciatingly painful, and then it wasn’t. The photos from the trial show that she was clearing her same old jump height with ease and style. However, as much fun as it was to bring her out and do a few runs, I’m sticking with the retirement plan. I’m also now more seriously considering trying out nosework with her as a fun thing to do with just her and I. A friend at the trial is doing it with her older dog and convinced me it’s something to try. The thing that convinced me the most was that she, like I, was concerned it’d be boring to do, but she conveyed it’s been so much fun for her to watch her dog play at this new game. So, maybe in a few months when I feel that life has settled a bit more.

Camm was a spitfire, as always. Whereas the weekend before we were hugely successful from a qualifying standpoint, this weekend we were not. Yet it felt like we were. A large part of that is that we’ve gained huge strides in our teamwork this month. About six weeks ago I was growing more frustrated and thinking that I needed to take a break with her. Then I calmly evaluated where we were and realized progress is often best made in small steps. So I once again put myself in the mode of working with her on one thing at a time at each trial. What a difference! I now have a dog with a decent start line stay and a dog that is much more willing to put her own frustrations aside and work with me fairly – as in no snipping. Camm and I are still very much a team in progress, and there’s still some very ugly stuff, but I’ll take full responsibility as I simply need to trust her more and be the handler she needs. I’ve discovered in the past few weeks that she is incredibly talented and has the potential to be even more of a powerhouse than Brady.

Brady provided me with some of my favorite highlights from the weekend. We did well all weekend, but he had a flawless run in jumpers and he earned not only a qualifying score in snooker, but a first place score too.But more than this, each of those two runs had memorable moments.

I’m pretty pleased that Brady and I as a team are presently very much “on.” It feels really, really good and very, very special. Still, an adrenaline-filled moment (i.e. fear, also known as deer in the headlights), is completing a front cross just as your intense locomotive of a red dog comes flying out of a tunnel and through a tire straight at you, and he has absolutely no worries that you might be in his way. That happened during our jumpers run. I’m pretty proud of myself that my execution was fairly flawless too.

The memorable moment in snooker wasn’t that I figured out a smooth, flowing path for Brady to run or that we executed it well, it was the finish to the table.

Brady does not like the table in agility. The table is used to stop the game or to temporarily halt the run. Personally, I feel his pain. I think the table is pretty stupid too. Because Brady is a dog that love the agility game and loves to run – he’d love if the courses had about twice as many obstacles to run – we frequently have arguments about getting on the table. Sunday’s snooker run was no exception. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that the argument only lasted for five seconds or so (an eternity in agility). Two weeks ago, Brady raced around and around in a tunnel, coming out to bark at me in the course of the circles, in order to avoid getting on the table. That maneuver was a crowd favorite, eliciting much laughter and more than a few cheers when he finally agreed to step on the table.

I felt a tiny bit of redemption when I saw other dogs engaging in similar behavior, especially several border collies, although none did it with quite the flair Brady has,

I have four days now to recover from this weekend before the almost final stop of the October Whirlwind Tour.

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