Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunny Bunny Spending All My Money

Oh Darling Sunny. I really do love you too. But you will land us in the poor house yet. I've always said I'd rather be homeless with my dogs than give them up to stay in a lonely home, but please don't test me on that one, ok?

I was so proud of you last week when you went to school to help those little kids learn to read. I loved it when your handler Micky said that you are already a favorite with the teachers and the kids after just one week, and when the program administrator put you through the paces and said you were perfect for the job. And when I left you with Micky and Suki for the weekend and Star and I went away to do our agility, I was so happy because what I had envisioned for all of us for 2 years had finally come to fruition, all the way down to the 2nd mom to take care of you on weekends sometimes.

But then we woke up yesterday morning and your uveitis had flared up again and you couldn't open your eyes. When neither the vet nor I could identify the cause, I had to consider that it's a stress-induced condition and the activities of the past week might have triggered it. Coincidentally it also happened when I brought Star home 2 years ago, as it happened to Network 15 years ago when I brought that little BC mix, Yule, home from the shelter to foster. You "momma's boys" just don't deal well with sharing, do you?

Well, you got used to Star, so maybe you'll get used to going to school too. But if you don't, then we will stop doing it, because it's no fun watching you when your eyes hurt so bad you can't open them. Never mind those vet bills - I still love you.

February 17th, 2012

I had a realization in the past week that was pretty special for me and I can't BELIEVE it took me 2 YEARS to figure it out.

My first Lab was a big ol' guy (Network) who was born on Feb 17. I let him go in Aug 2009 at 13 1/2 yrs old. Six months later, Feb 17, 2010, on what would have been his 14th birthday, I very innocently volunteered to transport for Safe Harbor a darling yellow girl from the vet to her foster. She of course was my future agility Star and this is the very first photo I took of her, with my cell phone, as we sat in the car in front of the foster's home, before I got out to let him know we were there. I love her alertness as she watched a kid go by on his way home from school.

In retrospect, I am sure that she picked me that day - it took 30 min to drag her out of the car at the foster. If I had realized what day it was, I would probably have known that my big ol' Network was sending her to me on his birthday, and I would never have left her with the foster. It was about 3 days before I decided I wanted to give her a try, a week before I got to bring her home, and another week before we overcame a potty issue and I agreed to keep her forever. I can't believe it has been 2 years already and that in some ways I love her more than my first Lab, my "heart" dog. We really have that special something. (Hmmm, is that "special something" something I'm supposed to have with another human being, and not a canine? Well, when they make a human more worthy than my canines, I'll reconsider.)

I was really floored when I realized all this last week and looked back in my transport log to confirm those dates. I was sobered by the realization of just how "meant to be" this was. What a special gift she was, and a special Valentine too.

And I just love how she curls up into such a compact little Lab ball. I just wanna wrap my arms around that little ball and make her last forever.

AKC Debut Day 2

Preparing for our 4th run, after 3 straight Qs in our AKC debut, I was almost hoping that we wouldn't get another one. Not that I was planning to turn it down if it was earned, but think of the pressure to continue that trend if we did go 4 for 4 at our first AKC trial! I had all day to think about that as our 1st run was early and our 2nd run was late.

But first, we started off Sunday morning with high hopes, having scored the Big Double Q on Saturday. There's a lot I don't like about this run, but I LOVE the excitement of my friends behind the camera as we approach the last jump and after we complete the run. I also like my 2 front crosses, probably the only handling that I did as planned all weekend. So the bar is pretty low for the Big Q in Novice but I guess that's how they get you hooked.

And here's our 4th run. Commentary afterwards.

So I got my wish - we broke our streak. And after a brief moment of "ah shucks" I really was ok with it, and a week later as I write this, I still am. Now I can focus on improving our speed and my handling skills instead of worrying about our Q ratio.

It's hard to see what went wrong in the video, but without enough momentum off the dog walk she stepped on the broad jump (we now have one in our backyard, a discarded shipping palette rescued from the field behind the apartments, and will work on making sure that doesn't happen again) and then she jumped off the A-Frame. The judge also called 2 refusals. We might have gotten 0 Qs for the weekend if she had been our judge the whole time. Then again, she was our judge for our first run but I find I have no memory of that run.

What I am most proud of is our Saturday standard run, our very first standard run in competition. The 2 big things that went wrong on our Sunday standard run were exactly what I expected to go wrong on Saturday. I was much more conscious of that going into the Saturday run and supported her speed heading into the broad jump and was very vigilant on her A-Frame. Resting on my laurels on Sunday, I was too relaxed and it was exactly those 2 things where we blew it. Lesson learned.

But enough flogging - back to the celebrating!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Double Q!

I wouldn't call it pretty by any means, but we got the job done. This was our first AKC trial, after 3 non-AKC trials in Oct and Nov. Over those 3 trials, we had 5 runs and finally got a Q on the last one of the 5.

This weekend we drove to Ridgefield, WA, for our first AKC trial. Far enough away from home that not very people would know us in case it was a disaster - new location, etc. Also, this was our first Standard run in competition - the one with all the big apparatus, for those in my audience that don't know about that stuff. Our competition runs up to this point only included jumps, tunnels, hoops and weave poles. As you'll see in this video, this run had a huge variety of toys to play on.

She got away from me once and had a little romp, but for novice level, it was forgiven. She also went in the wrong end of the tunnel the first time (my fault of course). We were allowed 2 oops and we used them. As much as I hate the opening shot, I love the ending shot.

We ended up with 2 qualifying runs on day 1 of our first AKC trial. A Q on the Jumpers course and Q on the Standard course = Double Q!