A break and Cynosports wrap up...

I've been writing this post for over a week, so it's long and more details than anyone really needs about our Cynosports experience, but it's my blog... ;)

So, looks like I am good for writing a couple times a year, Facebook pretty much covers me these days. Hey look, cute pictures of my dog! It looks like 2017 will be my first foray into the online market, more money would be good and Tracy has made it all very easy. Plus topics I like teaching, so decel and criteria, we'll see how many people will sign up for such things. ;)

My 2016 agility goals were all about Cynosports, so weeks later I am finally recharging. I did a quick one day at a show over Thanksgiving so Betty could hand out her Christmas cookies, but otherwise Rich and I have been on an agility break. Vic has still been playing a little, he's nearly 10 and I don't like giving him complete layoffs from agility, because he seems best if I keep him in agility shape. But right now I am on weekend 2 of 5 weekends off from competing! Dogs are loving it, I am appreciating that I have my 3-pack still, Starlet is still hanging tough on our outings, she is definitely an old dog these days, but doing really well for 14. We lost Gari the Cat a couple months ago, probably to kidney disease, just me and the dogs now.

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Vic's last big event and Rich's first big event that I felt like we were somewhat ready for. Both boys were on teams that had been planned for since Morgan Hill. Well, in Rich's case Lonny with Gunner was always on board, but our 3rd took some time. Our first choice decided to skip Cynosports, so we decided to ask Nancy and Pie to join the team and didn't get it locked down until after the Western Regional. If you had told me 2 years ago, I would be putting Rich on a team with Nancy, who I know wants to win the whole thing, I'd have said "maybe when he's 5-8...". I told myself the pressure of this team would be good for me. I need to start believing I can step to the line with Rich, when the pressure is on, and perform. This lesson is one I don't remember having to learn with Vic, I just always remember us having that skill.

Vic's team had the best name, "Drop the Mic", both Nancy and I expect that Cynosports '16 was the last big team event for Ten and Vic, so great name. Unfortunately, Ten wasn't quite right the first day and I encouraged Nancy to pull her from team to focus on getting her right for the individual classes. As much as I'd have liked to been competitive in the team event, it was really nice running my most awesome boy just for me. No worries about anyone else, just me and my best boy.

Wednesday was an odd day. Not because of the agility, I was only running in Rich in the warm up run. There was a lot of crying because of the election, people were afraid. I'm not happy with the outcome, but was very happy to have the distraction of the show to have a few days of blissful ignorance. I watched no news coverage, I had a "no politics" rule in place around me, really for the time I was out there, I had no idea what went on after Tuesday, until I got home Monday. Rich and my warm up run was fine, a sticky send to backside wrap that ended up with a bar coming down. Backside wraps and shoulder pulls into wraps are high on our "work on" list when we get back to training. That course was the first clue to one of the course themes of 2016 Cynosports, hard turns off of the frame. Rich met every challenge, but the running frame was definitely something that made you have to work harder this year.

Thursday was the first "real" day, my two most feared team courses with Rich. For Vic it was also PGP semifinals. I really hoped we could make that Finals, but our strength is our skills, more than freaky ground speed. Vic started the day with PVP Standard, a nice run, a little safe, but solid. I knew after running him the closing would be scary with Rich, since I barely made my front after the threadle with Vic... Rich's team ended up all being in the same group, which was awesome! I really don't understand why they can't make that always be the case. Rich was first of his team to go, Rich, then Gunner, then Pie, if I had to pick my run order for our team, that would have been it. Rich had a bar in the opening, my fault, I started falling behind and did a panic call on top of a bar. The threadle was scary as I thought, my rotation was late, so Rich jumped through the side of the broad jump, but I am happy I was able to hold it together and fix the error without an E. So, not a great performance, but we held our shit together as far as team goes. Everyone on the team made it around the course, which was taking out a lot of teams, so we knew we were in good standing after the round.

Next up for Vic was PGP semifinals, a good course for us, the line to the tunnel before the weaves played to our strengths. When I'm running Vic, anything seems possible and that line caused problems for a lot teams, but felt easy with Vic. I finished the run, it was a super run, we'd done our best and I didn't look at the scoreboard until the entire class had finished. I wanted to just appreciate that Vic and I had done our best and not think about the results. Turns out, he took 4th in the round, so a final Finals with my best boy and under the lights, finals under the lights is the best!

Team Snooker was next, the class I felt least confident about with Rich. As a team, we came up with a good plan, no one was trying to win the class, but we were only leaving one point on the table, with our 3 6's and a 7 plan. This time Rich's team ran Pie, Rich and then Gunnner. Pie had an uncharacteristic bobble for a 1 point run. I went over to Nancy afterwards, told her it was okay, "we have this". Literally as I turned away to refocus before our run, I thought "you just said that about Rich and this is Snooker..." So, pressure, the pressure to give the team a boost, the pressure to step up and put down a solid score. The pressure of doing this with Mr. Freakspeed, who has been known to touch a bar or two and who's last Snooker run was a zero. I didn't work the first tunnel discrimination, so we picked up a 2, instead of a 6, but after that we were solid and our score was still up there on the page. Lon tried for two 7s and would have gotten it, but the 4th red dropped, literally three strides after Gunner finished it. The judge had called out "one!" and then had to change it to "ZERO!!!!". It's actually a good thing he was going for that 7, because Gunner would have been in the tunnel before he would have heard the judge. It was as impressive a recovery from an error that could have happened. After the first day, we were sitting in striking distance of the Top 10.

Last run of the day was Snooker with Vic, I already knew team was now a solo venture with Vic, so nothing to lose. I was surprised no one had posted a score that had as many points as I was planning (same plan I had for Rich). We were the last group and Vic was the last dog to run. Pressure again, but this time I knew that if we did the plan, we would win the class. I said on my FB post about the run, that I had always thought Vic should win a Snooker class at a big event and he just waited for his last time to do it. He made it look easy, hell, it WAS easy, Vic is my agility soulmate and I am so grateful we had this last Cynosports. Before every run, I gave him a hug and kiss and thanked him for the journey he has taken me on.

Thursday was a safe, warm day in team with Rich, just Team Gamblers, Vic had PVP Gamblers and Jumpers. Aside from the Team class, Rich also had both semifinals. I prefer the semifinals on different days, but that was the schedule, so didn't think too much about it. One of the challenges of Cynosports is walking all the courses first thing and then running them throughout the day. My first run was Vic's Gamblers run. I had walked the course with Lon and Nancy (who were also a PVP team). I said I would use Vic to see about the amount of time we would have. My timing was good, our points were fine, but when we started seeing other teams scores we agreed after GP we would meet up and try to figure out where we were leaving points out there. I didn't get video of the Gamblers run...

Grand Prix semifinals, I watched the run and realized one of my fronts was going to be ambitious, but that was my plan, so I just told myself I would make it happen. And I did, sure we were screaming wide, but Rich tried so hard and we were CLEAN! OMG OMG OMG! Yes, there may have been happy skipping getting the leash. ;) It wasn't that I didn't think it could happen or thought it wouldn't happen, I just hadn't thought about anything other than what the plan was and how I was going to make it happen. And usually I can hear sounds when running, but everything was quiet in my head, until we finished and then BOOM noise, colors and feelings returned in a flood. Actually, that's not true, I did start to have thoughts about how things were going when Rich was going in the tunnel before the dogwalk, I remember mentally yelling at myself "FUCK YOU!!!" and refocused. Strange what our brains can do. ;)

Vic's Jumpers run came between Rich's semifinals runs. I'm glad I didn't have to run Rich on that course, but not scary with Vic. Lots of fun, and I got to do my favorite "move" serp to a front on a push through. Vic was a very good boy, but seemed tired, I started to get a little nervous about PGP and wanted to get out of dodge as soon as we were done with the regular runs that day so he could have a good nap on the bed at the hotel.

Steeplechase semifinals was interesting. There were quite a few BIS at the show (as they should be) and Rich decided that our friend Sheri knew where they all were. So, I took off his leash at the warm-up jump and he promptly ran off to where he thought Sheri would be. He would not take the jump. He would not play with his toy. He would not take food. I started to panic, but then remembered "nothing good has ever come from panic". So, I waited by the ring, told myself he would be fine once we went in and tried to remember the course. Sure enough, he was fine once we entered the ring, but I don't think I was until he was in the first tunnel. ;) A little safe on the front to the weaves and a little late on the front to the closing line, but Rich was great! Such smart jumping, he was squealing around the course and another Finals for Rich! I had said going into this Cynosports that this would be the year I lost my semifinals curse, I had never made a Finals without going through quarterfinals, now 3 for 3 through the semis, the curse is officially dead. :)

We met up for a team lunch after Steeplechase to figure out where we were leaving points in Gamblers. In the end we realized our plan was mostly good, just needed to do more jumps in the closing. I think part of the confusion was the way times were set for the different jump heights. Let's just say the top P8" dog had a 97, I think there were two with that score and the top C22" dog has 72 points... I don't think the judge planned on giving the little dogs such an advantage, but it would appear they had a substantial one. Again, our run order was Pie, Rich and the Gunner. Nancy made the right call after a bobble, so Lon and I knew we had to step up. I changed my plan to go for a couple extra points in the opening and not sure exactly what I did in the closing, but I think my brain was wired to get every point we had thought was possible and somehow we did it. 65 points for Rich, I probably could have gotten one more jump which would have given us 74. As it was, we did good, good enough for 2nd place in the class! Another solid effort by Lon and one more team class to go.

I went back to the hotel after that, to let Vic rest up. I took a walk down memory lane, so many great memories with Vic as my teammate. And I cried, happy/sad tears, our time with these dogs is so short, I want my time with Vic to just keep going and going, but also knew how lucky I was to know this would be our last time on a big stage. I knew I would appreciate the moment, I just hoped I wouldn't start crying on the course. When I took a look at the course, I couldn't have asked for a better course for us. My plan was all in, I was going to push the line to the dogwalk. I told it to Nancy who agreed, "it's Vic you can do anything." So during walkthrough I found it amusing that I was the only one walking the side of the frame and the side of the line I was. My push line plan not being the common plan was understandable to me, but I am surprised no one else did a front before the frame and push the line afterwards. Before our run, I could feel my emotions coming up, a friend of mine asked "do you need a hug?" knowing full well that would be the last thing I'd want. ;) Our turn to step to the line and a hug and kiss for Vic, I told him he is the best thing that has ever happened to me, thanked him again, reminded him to "sit" and started leading out. My eyes started to fill up and I looked back at Vic who promptly pushed, then completely broke his startline. God I love this dog. :) I can always hear the crowd in Finals, it's not distracting, it adds to the fun. And I could hear my friends, yelling at me to run, cheering when he made the weave entry and encouraging my aggressive closing plan. I was a little late and then didn't threadle the jump to the dogwalk, I was just pumped full of adrenaline and RUNNING. That turn cost us the win, but I threw it down hard and Vic gave me everything he had. I'm thrilled with the run and not going to complain about 2nd place in Vic's first and last PGP at Cynosports. It's an awesome way to leave that stage. :) Back to the hotel, after a stop for a fancy bacon cheeseburger that Vic did not have to share.

Saturday at Cynosports I started to hit a wall. And not one of the beautiful viaduct jumps that were in all the rings, but just tired. The days start so early and with two dogs in two different divisions, I never had enough of a break to go back to the hotel. I will try to remember the marathon factor of Cynosports the next time I go, but I suspect it will be easier when I am just running Rich.

First thing that happened on Saturday was checking the team standings and seeing Vic had ended up the top 16" PVP dog in the tournament and Rich's team had moved to 3rd or 4th in the DAM with just Jumpers to go. We also had the first run of Biathlon on Saturday.

Rich knocked the second or third jump, so I used the run to proof criteria. I'm a little conflicted with my plan to work criteria after that. On one hand, we were in striking range of the podium in DAM and I did not know what Relay would look like, plus we were definitely in GP Finals, so again, might want to make sure he's waiting for his release word (he was :)). But hindsight, we could have been in the hunt, with the 5 faults and it is Cynosports, so should I be pushing my hardest in all the individual classes? I'm really not sure what the answer is, but it is a question I will be pondering. Vic's biathlon run was solid, one miscue, but a ton of good stuff and we would have been in the ribbons for the run, if they gave ribbons for individual runs of Biathlon. The two biathlon classes were the only time I did anything other than my meat and potatoes handling and only with Rich. I'm not sure if the counter rotation was needed before the dogwalk with him, but it did get me down the line easier. I did not use it with Vic, but Rich is faster, so a little head start is helpful. I'm still not into practicing such things and so rarely do blinds or spins, it doesn't make sense to use practice time on them. I can do them when it counts, so I would rather use my training time for the skills that keep those options available, which are my meat and potato skills.

Team Jumpers was a fun course, scary with Rich, because broad jumps are not always our friend and the plan was an aggressive front before the broad jump. Run order was Pie, Gunner and Rich, the order I hoped would never happen. ;) Pie went first with a beautiful, spot on run that ended up being 3rd in the class, such a pretty run. Gunner had a couple bars, but threw down a time that would have been 2nd in the class. I did notice in Lon's run that he had nearly gotten caught on the wrong side of the closing line, so told myself to be aware of that. Rich's turn, teammates have been solid, we're in the hunt for the podium, but need me to have a good run. I reminded myself of a Billy Jean King saying: "Pressure is a privilege." I thought of my friends who have not been as lucky as I have been with their dogs health. I visualized the run and fired up Rich "do you want to go FAST?!?! Let's go FAST!" Again, the run is something of a blur, just giving Rich the info he needed, feeling a bit rushed to the front before the broad, because I admired a send just a little too long and then chasing him into the last tunnel... And then, "ummmm...shit, I'm on the wrong side". So many thoughts of what the resolution would be, "do I double rear? Can I make a serp?" that happened in a second or two. I can hear the fear in my voice when Rich comes out of the last tunnel. Solution was a flicky "RIGHT, RICH COME!!!" And clean, left some time on the clock with that closing line, but Rich covered for me. Rich saved my butt. :) I'd rather him not have to do that, but that he could, that he did, is huge. :)

After my teammates, the first person to come up to me was Svetlana from Russia. She'd been staying in SB the week before and had dropped in on a couple classes I was doing, to get some practice in. I really enjoyed her, nice lady, damn she has some cool skills on her dogs and Skippy, I have such a dog crush on that boy. She came up with a big grin on her face and said "very good", which made me laugh because it had to be the verbal override that impressed her. And it was very good, Rich won the class by over a second. :) So we knew the first place team was all clear in the round, but kind of expected to be in 2nd place, turns out we stayed in third or moved to third... The top 5 teams were so close to each other. We were in third by .5, behind first by 10 points, an exciting Relay to come! Oh! And Rich ended up being the #2 overall 22" dog, just behind Svetlana and Skippy.

I ran back to the hotel, so I could take a shower (it was hot) and grab the black pants for Steeplechase Finals. I had just gotten back when the texts started coming about getting back to go over plans for Team Relay. So much hindsight on this evening, but I did get in a shower and the dogs napped for the 1/2 hour I was at the hotel.

Team Relay had frames on two of the sections and a teeter in the 3rd. We decided Rich would run first, took advantage of his running frame and also took into consideration his youth, because I honestly wasn't sure how high he would be with the excitement. We walked, we talked handling strategies and planned our baton exchanges. I have to say, we were a great team in all ways. I'm so fortunate to have had Lon and Nancy as teammates. This run was the most nervous I have been, it is easier when the pressure is just on you to perform for yourself, but when you add in the outcome of others, the pressure goes up. This is probably what I like most about team, that pressure to achieve when others need you to. I had a death grip on the baton when we went in the ring, Rich was high as a kite, but nothing I haven't seen before. I remember my last thought when I heard "go", "do I have to...". And we went, a solid fast run, clean baton exchange and then both Nancy and Lon ran clean as well. Nothing more we could do, just wait and see where we ended up. Turns out 2nd place in Team Relay, right behind the team sitting in 1st place and 2nd place overall. Two podium pictures for Rich with our super awesome teammates. So cool!

Steeplechase Finals walked a hour or so later. Hindsight, I should have gone home after the walk and had someone text me when 12" Championship was running. I had never been in a Steeplechase Finals and while I have watched it, I apparently never appreciated how LONG it takes. I had students competing and I wanted to be there to cheer them on (two of them made it to the podium!!!). Hindsight is pretty useless, so I will call it a lesson, next time I will go home, but this year I didn't. My plan was fine, it's Steeplechase, there really isn't much strategy. ;) But I pulled lateral a little too soon and caused a refusal. Rich was amazing, so fast, so smart, he was great. Next time I will be great too!

Last day was Biathlon Jumpers and Grand Prix Finals. I was officially dragging, but so appreciative of the showing we'd had. I caused refusals with both Rich and Vic in Biathlon Jumpers, really I nearly scratched Rich, but I ran Vic first, so I wasn't going to get in extra sleep scratching the run. But if I'd known Rich could have still been in the hunt for a placement with 5 faults, maybe I would have been more present. Vic I just said a "left" when I should have kept my mouth shut. As it was, we still finished 6th in Biathlon, so more loot for my most awesome boy and a friend/student won the whole thing, so that was also awesome. :)

Grand Prix Finals... First lesson is make sure you are on USDAA's mailing list for any changes that can happen for walkthroughs. It was just luck that I meandered over to the ring and saw a gathering of handlers. The moved up the time and at least one handler missed their walkthrough entirely. Next lesson I would learn later, but it is don't waste time trying to figure out a way to make something happen that you can't make happen, because you don't trust a skill needed for the obvious plan. Just do the obvious plan and focus on executing to the best of your ability. I did do a better job about relaxing before the run, really it was all good, other than my delusional belief that I could support Rich's running frame and somehow get to a blind cross, so I could get to a front cross... ;) I didn't make it to the blind and while I was thinking " way" I should have been cueing the rear cross I should have just accepted I was doing from the beginning and caused a bar with a very very late and loud cue. I held his teeter after that, daring someone to call it, his teeter was something I expected would be called because sometimes USDAA seems to go with the board has to hit the ground before feet do, which never happens with Rich's teeter. But it is a GREAT teeter, one that I heard the crowd respond to, which is fun. I actually think I made the turn wider than it would have been after the teeter, by holding it, because I was impatient on the turn and just cued the jump and took off. Had I still been running for real, he would have seen me decelerate on approach to the jump. After that the run was good and a fast time despite the second a half teeter, plus a VERY wide turn where the bar came down. Again, next time I will do better!

And with that Cynosports was over. Angela (Rich's super awesome breeder) flew out for the event and I am so happy she was able to see us do well. Rich's brother Jimmy Neutron also made both Finals in 26", so she had lots to cheer for. On my FB you can see pictures of Rich and Jimmy, Rich is so tiny next to his brother. They're about the same height, but Jimmy is so much more dog than Rich with the same sweet habits. Such a lovely litter, I am so lucky that I found Angela, so lucky to have Rich. Our future is bright.

Instead of trying to make the drive home, I joined my teammates for a night of laughter, drinks and food somewhere near the CO river. A great way to end the weekend and the dogs appreciated having some time playing in the river the next morning. Then the drive home, where I fell asleep by 3pm and woke up at 2am to hungry dogs. Cynosports 2016, wow, just amazing, lessons learned, exciting successes and so much fun.

And as is the case after a big event, it all stops meaning as much so quickly after it is done. I try to not forget and that's the reason for this epic post, I don't want to just move on to whatever is next, I want to make sure I appreciate what happened and remember it.

What is next is more time at the beach and hiking the hills. Then we move on to the next goals. Vic is officially in the "appreciate every run like it's his last" stage. I love him so much and want to make sure my schedule still allows us to play this silly game while we can. Rich and I will start the qualifying process for 2018 AKC Nat'ls at the end of the month. We finished up our 24" requirements for WTT, so we'll start back at 20". Big event that I plan on attending next year will be WTT, maybe we'll go to Cynosports, but right now I'm just expecting to go to WTT. Training plans are starting up, but we have a couple months before serious training will begin again. Rich is turning 4 at the end of the month, we are now a team, 2018 will be our next really busy year of big competitions, but you never know, 2017 could see us on the FCI World Team...

Where's the rest of you?

It's a question I get asked a lot these days. Kind of funny, since the big push to get off extra pounds started last July and it's really been a slow and steady thing, not rapid, but I think as I get closer to goal each pound gets more visible. So first, a plug, a friend/student and I have been doing an exchange, I train with her once a week in exchange for a private. I've been doing this for a couple years, Kim is great, but July was when I decided to really grab the bull by the horns and said, "okay, tell me how to eat." I don't consider it a diet, I consider it a feeding plan, really a way of life and I feel a TON better. Kim Lohman, she's on FB, she is AWESOME and for $25 will customize a feeding plan for you (which is really just guidelines for making good choices). Who knew I was dehydrated for 20 something years of my life? It's been easy in many ways, the hardest parts were getting organized with my food, peeing like crazy for the first 3 weeks and giving up the diet/energy drinks. I get a cheat day a week, when I just go crazy and unlike all the denying of food "diets" I've gone on before, this lifestyle is one I have no doubt I can keep up.

What has me talking about it? Well, first, I have a weekend off again, 3 weekends off in a row from agility, a great recharge. :) But when I was looking at Ian Coggins pics from tryouts, I just put Rich's name in a the search engine and up popped pics from me from 2014. Ummmmm, omg, I had no idea... ( Then last week, a student who has been struggling with food made a comment about how much further she had to go than me, so I showed her my 2014 self. According to Kim, she is now back on board with the feeding plan, so kind of cool that I could help inspire her.

Don't ask me how much I've lost, we'll just go with "a lot" and yes, I still plan on losing some more before Cynosports. Weight loss is only part of the plan, BITCHWHORE (as I prefer to call Kim), is also helping me get stronger and faster. Goal is to be in the best shape of my adult life in AZ. :)

SW Regionals/WTT

What a difference two weeks can make. Two weekends in a row of "big" events, but only the first one were we competing "for real". We couldn't get the second JWW leg at 26", that quest was not good for me. I'd like to believe Rich was unaware that I was disappointed, but I don't think we can fully hide things from our dogs. After the end of the WTT qualifying quest, I kind of went into a funk. I just wanted to go to the beach with my dogs, not train and not think about agility, my showing/teaching schedule kept me from doing the full retreat I wanted to do. About 10 days before the SW Regional, I remembered that if I'm going to ask my dogs to do this with me, I should prepare them for what I'm going to ask them to do. :)

Really at this stage, Vic's "training" is being demo dog and getting run by a friend/student on Tuesday nights. Vic and I are so dialed with each other. We always have been, he truly is my agility soulmate.
Going from Vic as my main teammate to Rich has been a challenge. Not because Rich isn't great, brilliant is the word I most frequently use when describing him. But where Vic held my hand as we made our way up the agility ladder, Rich runs ahead and asks me to hurry up. So, we prepped for Regionals, logical challenges, jump work and I started making a mental management plan. I've never been a fan of the people with headphones on during walkthroughs, but decided to give it a go. I'm now a big fan of it, I don't see doing it at local shows, but "big" events, I will be doing it from now on. So nice not to have the background noise of people talking about their plans, which often are very different than mine, since I continue to primarily rock it old school with handling choices.

Regionals started with bad runs by me with both boys in Gamblers, fell off plan with Vic and then stayed greedy (lost bonus points), fell off plan with Rich and froze, then fled... I still haven't looked to see how much time I left on the clock, I'm sure it was a lot. I was so disappointed in myself and was lucky that one of my teammates had had a similar mental collapse, so we beat ourselves up, she went and got us coffee, then we went to our corners to regroup. Which we did, Vic was spot on, on a tricky Team Standard and Rich broke his startline, had me running scared, but despite one "GET BACK OVER HERE!!!" line to a weave entry, put down a solid time in Team Standard. I would like to note, my teammate also threw it down in Standard, so regrouping success by both of us! :)

Rich Standard:

Next day started with Steeplechase for Rich (I don't run Vic in it, not our game). The run was nearly perfect, two headchecks that were understandable and only noted because I always think there's room for improvement. Rich was one of the first to run and no one came close. I think that run was the beginning of the change that I now feel with Rich. Team Jumpers was another run where Rich was so amazingly good, one wide turn and a crazy fast time. I saw a few competitors runs and continue to think excessive use of the "fancy" handling is not speeding dogs up. I see dogs questioning what side they'll be coming to and really, those two fists over a jump for collection just looks harsh to me. I used to do that with Finn back in the day, but I wouldn't say we had the best relationship, often our runs were a fistfight in the form of agility and we never really had the relationship I would expect most people do with their teammates, since he wasn't my dog. Vic was so good in Jumpers too, covering me when I wasn't good. He so often hears "you are such a good boy!!! " in the middle of a run. He really is and even though those words often happen after I have screwed up, I do love hearing them on videos. He deserves the praise, our dogs do deserve all sorts of credit for what they put up with and do for us. I wish I saw it more often. I changed plans in Snooker, then didn't remember the course correctly and unfortunately, didn't realize that until making the same mistake with Vic. Before Cynosports I will have to run some games again, I'm definitely off my "game" in those classes. Both boys ran well in Team Relay, both teams won Relay and I have to work on having more aggressive plans when I have to pull the dogs past two tunnel openings. ;) Vic's team was 4th (because of my bad Gamblers and Snooker), Rich's 5th, which was his first "competitive" team at a "big" event. :)

Vic Jumpers:
Rich Jumpers:

Last day of Regionals started with Steeplechase for Rich, we had a very wide turn at 2. In my head I was standing still, the video shows I gave an approriate turning cue for Vic. There was definitely a part of me that was thinking about "just run clean" and 2 was a bar Rich can pull. Still, took 2nd in the classs behind Carol's AMAZINGLY fast Schemer, so podium time for the boy and we have that bye for Cynosports. :) Both boys had byes in Grand Prix, but I did run Rich in Rd. 1 where he was clean and I worked contacts to the point that when Kemna watched the video she said, "Okay, that's just ridiculous". ;) Vic ran first. I didn't think we could make podium, because he's older and so many fast dogs in the P 16" class these days, but what we have over the others is complete confidence in each other. He was so good, such a solid run, but I had seen the other runs, so was just happy that I'd had another great run with my most awesome boy. When Terra told me we'd taken 2nd in the class... Well, I'm glad for sunglasses, because I started crying. I love Vic so much, am so grateful for having him in my life and to get rewarded for our teamwork was such an unexpected bonus.
Rich Steeplechase Rd.2:

Have I mentioned how much I loved the headphones for walkthroughs? Cause I really do, would pick a song and just have it repeat for the entire time. Sunday was Arcade Fire's Ready to Start. Rich was 6th seed in Rd. 2, I hadn't watched anyone run before us, I didn't want to. Again, in this age of spins, I don't find watching others anything but distracting. I get to teach at Power Paws Camp again this year, my topic "So Retro It's Cutting Edge: Decel as a Primary Turning Cue". ;) Anyway, I can honestly say I wasn't thinking about anything other than what I was going to do before our GP run. Rich was wide in some spots, but always knew where he was going next. I'm believing unless a turn is REALLY important, I'm going to let him choose how to deal with it and not manage them. I think as time goes on with enough rewarding in training, he's going to make the best choices for him and really the one who knows what will work best for him is him. And while he was wide, he was also screaming fast on some hard footing (3 days of outdoor showing in the middle of a drought will do that) and won the class by a lot. Finished off my bye quest for the boys with that run. And that feeling kept getting stronger...

We didn't do much to prep for Tryouts after Regionals, the one day I tried to do some stuff was kind of a disaster with him going VERY far away to off courses. I told myself it was okay, we were ready for Regionals and we weren't running "for real" at tryouts, so if things went poorly I could say "he's just 3" and if things went well, I would still be saying "he's just 3", though the latter would be in a higher pitch. ;)

I drove up on Day 1, he practiced great and I felt good before Rd 1 Jumpers, such an awesome course. A course I would like to rerun, because I failed Rich. I didn't even walk the numbers correctly. ;) Still there were glimmers of his brilliance and I may have to burn that unlucky skort... I went out with a friend that night, talked about things other than my agility plans and woke up the next day determined to shake off the day before and show what Rich and I are capable of. Which I believe we did. We had a spot on Rd. 2, so good that Tamas went and asked the score table if we were really a white dog, a run that had him telling me that he's seen lots of dogs and "THAT one, he is special". A story I keep telling, will keep telling and don't bother telling me you've already heard it, because you're not going to stop me from telling it again. ;) If we'd been running for real, we would have won the class. :) The rest of our runs had faults, two weaves (one where I mentally checked out which caused Rich to pull out and one entry I should have done a threadle cue for), a broad jump error and the first bar came down after we stood on the line for too long in Rd. 5, only bar he pulled all weekend. He did all the "hard stuff" great, the errors were young team errors and I believe after Rd 2, I mentally let up a little, because everything else was gravy. :)
Rd 1:
Rd 3:
Rd 4:
Rd 5:

A friend commented on FB that sometimes it would be nice to be able to frame a video... This run would be framed for sure. And did I tell you what Tamas said to me...? :)

But that "feeling", it didn't hit me until the drive home what it was... Confidence. I now know I can be the handler Rich deserves and all that brilliance I have seen is not just "potential", it is the real deal. I have wondered, often out loud, since we first started out if I would ever feel like this with him. Vic was always so easy, I really wasn't sure I could have that same feeling with Rich. And it's not the same, but Rich is going at a rate of speed I have never experienced before, so mistakes will happen, but in the last two weeks I stopped thinking about the potential errors when we stepped to the line. Confidence..., it is so empowering. :) We're all taking a few weeks off from agility, then start the slow prep for Cynosports. It will be Vic's last "big" event. Time goes by so quickly and I am lucky that this golden time with Vic is happening as Rich and I are hitting our stride. It makes me appreciate it all the more.

WTT quest

So I'm going to try and qualify Rich... Hate 26", though he jumps it fine, but do like him at 24". First show at big jumps was this past weekend, QQ the first day, which after years of Vic being my main partner, it feels silly how relieved I am. It's best if I run him without thinking about the jumps, bars are same bars he used to knock regularly at lower heights and he'll figure them out, just have to trust that he understands my cues and give him the info. Videos are on my FB, will eventually get them on YouTube and maybe actually edit this to add them. Otherwise, both boys are all qualified for Cynosports, have their 3 byes if I decide to hit a 3rd Regional. El Niño is apparently code for great surf and hot weather, since we still don't have any real rain to show for it. Starlet fell down the stairs last night trying to walk up them. We went to the beach for a couple hours after the show and it was a bit much for her. She's getting older faster these days,which I hate. Vic is still awesome, treasuring this pre-old time. Rich is brilliant, so keen and smart, I can't believe I have been so lucky to get to great agility teammates back to back. Yup, brief post, but I keep waiting to do a proper catch up or rant about marketing and the need for critical thinking skills and well, coffee is done and need to get ready for work. ;)

Action Dogs

Goals mostly met, could have been braver in GP with Rich and serped after the weaves, but still not trusting him after some 10 pole pops.  Bars in both runs, but they were mine, he's making some great choices.  Where I had fears is where we had troubles, but my fears are fewer and my confidence is growing in leaps and bounds.  :)  Vic was as always awesome.  I'm so lucky to have him and grateful for the Performance program, cause 16" is such fun with him.
And LJ is frustrating me, so that's why video above text....  mutter, mutter, mutter...

recreating good habits....

Saw a post from Tammy and it hit me I should also be trying to recreate good habits and one of my good habits was making a list of 3 things for a show and we're showing in a couple classes tomorrow....

1.  Maintain criteria
2.  Try things out if the course allows (still very classic in my handing choices and with the courses we see, don't see a reason to change).
3.  Appreciate running my soulmate agility teammate.

1. Maintain criteria.
2. Run bravely.
3.  Appreciate having such a talented teammate.

In other news, turns out I have been dehydrated for the past 20 something year, because upping my water intake has radically cut back my caffeine intake.

a post!

Okay, not saying I'm going to get on a roll, since I'm closing in on a year without posting....  Dogs are all good, I post lots of pics on FB, which has become my outlet since it's less personal.  Truth be told, I'm not super comfortable posting my thoughts these days.  So a thoughtless update on my dogs. :)

Starlet:  Without question, my best dog, so happy and so deaf these days.  A deaf dog that never really wanted to listen is tricky, but a happy Starlet is awesome.

Vic:  My perfect boy, can be a dick these days with dogs, but if he likes the person he likes their dogs.  He's in Performance now, he didn't have to move, but after making GP Finals and 2nd in DAM at Cynosports last year, I thought moving to Performance was perfectly timed.  He remains my soulmate of a dog and the most handsome dog  I have ever seen, even if he's starting to go a little gray.  :( SW Regionals was a few weeks ago and he was part of the winnng PVP team, won Biathon and 2nd in PGP, I didn't enter PSJ, since those aren't our types of courses.   :)  He is as always the easiest dog I have ever run, love every moment with him and hate the thought he is getting older.

Rich:  Dear lord is he talented... We have runs that are as good as anything I've ever seen and then feral.  ;-)  I added a stop to his dogwalk, in addition to the run.  He actually won Steeplechase at the SW Regional, so his first "championship".  Otherwise, we still need a leg in Adv. to finish his AAD and another JWW to move to Masters across the board.  That's right, I've started doing AKC again.  USDAA continues to frustrate me with their inability to hear the competitors and if I do international competition with Rich I'd want to go to the big event, which means AKC.  I've actually enjoyed the courses, but then I've cut back a lot on showing and any time I step in the ring with Rich and his freakspeed, it's exciting.  :)  And despite my complaints about USDAA, very much looking forward to Cynosports in 2016.

I teach a lot these days.  Looking forward to going back to Clean Run next month and will be judging a day of UKI.  When I'm not working, we're at the beach or hiking.  Really, life is good, just busy.  :)

Puppy debut!

Rich's first show was Saturday!  I entered because I knew the Starters judge and knew he'd do his best to set up appropriate courses.  I haven't gone that far south in years for a regular show.  The site was lovely and if I had to be there for nearly 12 hours, I'm glad for that.  I left my house around 4:30am and arrived home at 10pm, LONG day, but worth it.  It was just as an agility debut should be, moments of extreme baby dog, moments of brilliance and a couple Q's.  Vic also got to play and as always he was awesome.  Such a super duper boy, my Vic, but Saturday was really about Rich, so the only video is of Rich.  So much fun!  

Long time no write

Obviously, still having a hard time making the time to write.  FB is easier, I can post a gazillion pictures of our beach trips and jot down little random thoughts as I have them.  It is just the beach for us these days, the hills are so dry, between the foxtails, ticks and the reminder that if we have a fire, it will be hardcore, well, the beach is so nice and makes it easy to forget we have no water.

Dogs are doing good.  Loving all the beach time.  Starlet is the happiest I have ever seen her, gets lots of treats from the students at classes and a general life without rules or expectations.  She is the teacher of the most lessons and the biggest being, it's okay to say "I don't think you like agility, so let's just go on a walk."  Vic also doing good, had a super Regionals, missed a GP bye, because I didn't look back on the dogwalk and he hadn't reached the yellow when I released.  First missed dogwalk ever.  :-)  Did get the Steeplechase bye, but I don't know that I'll bother running him in it at Cynosports, he's just not a drag race type of boy.  He made the podium in Biathlon, I just love those courses.  Some more than others, caught a little flack about putting up the MC Jumpers course from Regional on FB and calling it "lame", but well, it was. Vic is such a great dog, my soulmate of a teammate.  Rich is looking good.  The boy is what Angela predicted, "Freaky Fast and Freaky Good".  The dogwalk, well, I fully expect to have a full-time stop on it eventually, but for now we continue on.  He has once again decided 3 strides should be enough, well, it's 3 and a skippy step or two.  I tried to get him back to a 4-stride behavior (how do people get there dogs to do it in 5 strides?!?!?!), but that just messed with my head, so now we're back to "if it doesn't look crazy, he has good separation and deep in yellow...reward".  He actually does have a really lovely turn into the tunnel off the dogwalk and seems to be getting better with different exits.  Who knows, he seems to understand where to put his feet...  At least we got our frame and it's a nice frame, I really do love his frame.

I went back to Clean Run again last month.  Such a cool group of people and I had fun getting some blind cross virgins to give them a go on the International day.  I think they felt safe, since I don't do many myself, but there are places where they're the best option.  Also interesting to talk about the locations of my blinds with that crew.  I am in no way fluent in Greg D, but some of those folks REALLY understand the system and more importantly, understand the why's of how it works, which explains why I am drawn to some blinds more than others.  I also learned last month that I am teaching a Power Paws Camp again.  Love Camp, should be very fun and expect this will be my last year, since 3 years is a long time to be there.  I'm hoping I can wrangle some time with Anthony this year with Rich, I want Rich to be super strong in classic handling, before seeing anything too fancy (other than blinds off the frame, I need those now).

Last weekend I went up to Power Paws.  So luxurious to be there on a weekend!  Great time, watched some WAO with Nancy, we trained the puppies and Saturday we took turns doing set ups for a workshop.  Very fun.  Rich did much better than I expected.  He looks more trained than I think he is, but well, my handling is simple, so I'd like to think it's easy for him to understand my cues.  We have rear cross homework and some stuff to do with 2 jumps to start addressing the bars.  Plus all the other stuff that baby dogs have to learn, but it's all fun and Rich is brilliant, so it feels so easy.  Just love my baby dog!  Here's video from Saturday:

I think his first show could be on his 18 month b-day, if not then, it will be at Bay Team over the 4th of July (the following weekend), so EXCITING!!!!


An end of an era, tomorrow I go with Betty to let Finn go.  Very sad.  Such a good boy that Finnamon, he changed my life.  I hate that tomorrow will be here soon.  I hate cancer.