Four-Dog Weekend

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So guess what? Did an agility trial this weekend.

That was a bit of a joke. Like what else would I do on a long holiday weekend?

It’s been over a month since I last posted. Mostly that’s because I either didn’t have anything nice to say or I was super busy. The super busy part is pretty good. The not having anything nice to say part was an editorial decision on my part. While I wrote soooo many things in my head, many of them quite brilliant and bitingly hilarious – in the end, I opted to rein myself in. That was not the original intent of this blog, and it may or may not continue. Those who know me well may feel a twinge of sadness. Those who don’t, well, really you should thank me. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone. (That’s called sarcasm – I do it incredibly well.)

May really was a bitchy month. Mercury retrograde and all. So bitchy, I actually forgot about an important anniversary – the day I got kicked off the island, i.e. told I no longer fit in with the company’s vision going forward. That’s for a later post.

Okay, actually I forgot because I was at an agility trial that weekend. Youke getting his third championship title, C-ATCH 3, was definitely a good thing that happened in May.

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Camm seemed to be looking for her big ribbon that weekend too. Told her it’ll happen someday, but at our present rate, someday may be a long way off.

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This weekend, traveled to Salem, OR for a trial. Mainly because I really didn’t want to stick around at home and be all depressed that long holiday weekends are an inappropriate time to try to take all four of my dogs out for a hike. Therefore, 1.5 tanks of gas and 550.5 miles later…. there we were.

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So glad we went. I did this particular trial last May too and had a lot of fun. But this year was better, For one, it wasn’t freezing cold like last year. It was surprisingly perfect! In fact, I dressed a bit too warmly, thanks to the incorrect weather forecast.

Jasmine would like to note it wasn’t all that perfect for her. For one thing, she is not feeling the part about being retired.

Jasmine hopped out of The Living Room on Wheels every chance she could, pretty convinced it was her turn to run. When she wasn’t doing that, she was barking. So much barking. On the one hand, it appears that at nearly 13 years of age she has decided to pull out her old dog license. On the other, Jasmine was pretty convincing about wanting to do agility. Made me wish that I entered her in a few runs this past weekend.

I took her into the arena finally on Sunday afternoon and she was pulling me to get into the building. She’d trialed there twice in the past, including last year at this time, so knew the layout. I brought her to the entrance of the ring to let her see the ring and equipment as the course builders were setting up a new course. Fort the first time that I can really recall, I saw her scanning the layout like Brady and Camm do before their runs. And then the best part ever happened for Jasmine – people! A long-time CPE judge was trialing this weekend and came up to say  hello to Jasmine. Jasmine had trialed under her too many times to count and she’d told me in the past that she always liked watching Jasmine. And then other people came up to say hello to Jasmine and she was pretty much in heaven. For Jasmine, agility was about the people and making human friends. That was her reward. She only ever did it to try to please me.

So in addition to being a major pain in the ass with her barking, Jasmine also got to pee on a lot of things and over other dogs’ pee and got to knock over Brady and Youke a couple of times to get to the Ball first and show them she’s still All That. She narrowly missed knocking Camm over too, but the girls seem to have a mutual agreement about no actual contact during play time.

Youke was once again a steady rock star this weekend.

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Somehow, Youke has become this fairly competent and happy little agility dog in the past six months. He even tugged inside the ring with me a few times this weekend while we were waiting for jumps to be set and/or the judge to finish instructions to the score table. Now, at home Youke likes to play a fierce game of tug, but he’s never been that into it at other places. Of course, Ball is still best.

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Youke likes to have a few bites of string cheese after he does an agility run, but playing Ball is his biggest reward. He got to play a lot of Ball this weekend. He was awesome.Poor guy even put up with me sending him through the weaves three times in his Snooker run. He was a champ (he is the most perfect Snooker dog actually) and did perfect weaves all freakin’ weekend. Of course I stacked the deck in my favor by being “on-side” for all entries this weekend, including during a super awkward moment in Standard on Sunday where during a ill-timed front cross on my part into the weaves he ricocheted off my knees. Apparently that’s not a fault. Otherwise, he was smooth as butter in his runs and turned in super excellent performances in Standard on Saturday and Jumpers on Sunday in particular. In fact, Youke had a perfect day on Sunday, qualifying in all of his runs.

Wildcard on Saturday? Not so much. I was telling our agility instructor last week how Wildcard is my foe in CPE agility. I guess for many people it’s a game called Colors. Nope, me and my dogs usually excel at that game.

On Saturday, I bit it big time with all three dogs in Wildcard. Youke’s run was such a disaster that I just ended up in the middle of the ring stopping and just playing with him for a few seconds before continuing on. I’ve always though it was so funny how doing that, even when it’s absolutely the right thing to do, earns a elimination score or an “E.”. Seems like it should earn an “F” – for FUN!

Wildcard was actually not such a disaster for Brady. He ran the course perfectly. He just forgot that he’s supposed to stop on contact equipment and not leap off of it.

That was pretty the story of the weekend for Brady. Any course with contact equipment, and we didn’t qualify. He had a lot of fun, as did I, but judges don’t look favorably on the flair that Brady adds to doing contacts. I see some persuasive training in our future.

My highlight with Brady this weekend was his smoking and perfect Jumpers run Sunday. The speed! The tight turns! The discriminations! The lack of arguments at turning away from me! That latter part was huge. Every single course I walked this weekend I rehearsed over and over how to use my arm to “switch” Brady away on turns and to be deliberate and conscious of my body language. I’m just gonna say that he was deeply appreciative. It was like running agility with an agility instructor at my side. In reality, Brady is the best agility instructor I could have. He’s completely silent and perfect when I do things right. He’s loud, biting and ANGRY when my handling sucks.

Case in point – Snooker. Snooker is a game that makes Brady deeply angry. There is not always a way to run a Snooker course smoothly and efficiently. I’ve actually pulled Brady from a Snooker run when I cannot figure out a smooth way to do it. This weekend’s Snooker course was fun and the possibility of getting all 7s in the opening was ideal. Brady has beautiful weaves and the number 7 obstacle was the weaves. I saw a way to get two 7s, but the way to get three of them, would frustrate Brady. Therefore, I planned a moderate course that I could run with all three dogs and hopefully be successful. And I was successful with Youke and Brady. Not so much with Camm as she back-jumped a red jump on our way to weave #2. Because of that error with Camm, and since I ran Brady after Camm’s run, I over-handled that jump with Brady. And thus began an argument of epic proportions. I am so glad our Jumpers run after that was incredibly wonderful, because I might never have been forgiven. I’m pretty sure during Snooker that Brady’s eyes were glowing red. He was so pissed at me. He was not incorrect to be pissed, but a little forgiveness can go a long way. Just saying. I feel lucky I emerged from that run unscathed. Mostly because I’m really quick about jumping out of the way of the gnashing teeth.

When I brought him back to the car he looked like his brain had just exploded.

Brady: SNOOKER IS THE STUPIDEST FUCKING GAME! HATE IT! HATE IT! Gotta lie down and take a nap now.

Brady (after his excellent Jumpers run): THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN! Good handling mom! Let’s play some Ball and then I gotta lie down and take a nap.

And then there was Camm.

Camm: I not do stoopid stopped contacts this weekend Human Mom.

Me: Camm, that’s not how I trained you!

Camm: Guess what? I have a new invention! Called running contacts! Can do all the agility things super fast that way. I have a talk with Brady. He tell me to go for it!

Me: Camm, running contacts are not a new invention. And you can’t do them, even when you naturally stride them perfectly. I can’t be in position fast enough.

Camm: Too bad! I see you can’t try to stop me and train me here. I run super fast!

Me: Good thing our next trial is NADAC.

Youke is qualified for CPE Nationals in May 2017. I am still chipping away with Camm.

She started off the weekend with two gorgeous runs, including a perfect Standard run on Saturday that made the onlookers clap vigorously in approval. That might have gone to her head.

The rest of the weekend was all about going super fast. The faster the better. And stopping on contacts was not in Camm’s game plan. Nor, in some cases, were jump bars. Not to say that there wasn’t some really good stuff, because there most definitely were.

It occurred to me after Brady’s gorgeous Jumpers run that it takes a while to reach that level of perfection, and it’s not always promised. There was a time when those moments seemed like flashes of lightning from a quickly passing storm in the distance. Now it’s more like we’re often in the midst of that storm and the lighting strikes occur more frequently during the storm. I’m in the quick glimpses of lightning phase with Camm right now. I see the brilliant lightening bolts, ever so briefly, but I want to see the whole show lighting up the sky.

The cool thing is that I know it’ll happen. Eventually.

And even forces of nature have to rest.

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It took a lot of flexibility, but somehow wiggled my way into bed.

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