Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Still stunning at 17

Our beautiful cat Shadow.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy 3rd birthday Wall-e!

It's amazing how fast time flies. Yesterday Wall-e celebrated his 3rd -- yes, THIRD! -- birthday!

First we went to the field at 10:00am:


The rest of the day was interspersed with walks and chasing cars along the fence in the backyard:

That evening, Wall-e had his "cake"; half of a muffin top. Wall-e LOVES muffins, and I'm sure he'd appreciate having the whole thing, but I was afraid he would get sick. He did have a nice-sized piece though:

Happy birthday Mister! I hope you have a fun year of agility, walks, and occasional car-chasing :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mika trial May 20, 2011

Was it ever humid! Two Masters Gamblers runs.

They were both good. I remember at this same trial last year, it was just as humid, but Mika was running a lot slower; but today her speed and drive only decreased a bit. YAY girlie!

Didn't get the gamble in either run! :) In the first one I tried to send Mika to the tunnel, but got stuck on the line:


In the second run, Mika yelped as I let her go (I started with her, like I usually do in Gamblers). I think I was accidentally pulling her back a bit too hard; I always pull her back slightly to rev her up, and she leans back in response in preparation to taking off like a rocket. (Not that she took off like a rocket at this trial, lol, because of the humidity!) I stopped running to make sure she was okay, and then we restarted the run with quite a bit more speed. This gamble was kind of impossible -- only one team got it! -- so I barely attempted it. Way over our heads! See below:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Open house demos May 15, 2011

Our club held an open house on Sunday, with demos in agility, flyball, and disc. I ran my dogs in the agility demos (and also tried handling a club member's Border Collie in flyball...but I can't say that I did very well in that, haha!).

There were two different agility demos; a Standard run and a run called "Clockwatcher's" (in which two different dog/handler teams run sequences at the same time; whoever gets to the table first wins).

It was raining during Mika's Standard run, but she didn't care at all; she just wanted to do agility and get treats! I have to work on her startline stay; she released herself a couple of times and I had to reset her (after rewarding her for her enthusiasm, of course). There were other spectator dogs watching just 5-10 feet away from her, by the fence, but she only glanced at them a few times and remained totally focused on me! Watching her in the video, I see no signs of immense stress (the lip-licking was because of the treats I was giving her). When we finally started our run, she was wonderful!! Below is the first half of our run:

The second half of our run is in a different video clip, which I haven't bothered to upload yet, but it included a really nice A-frame (even though the AF was wet).

Then Wall-e had his turn. He was, well...kind of nuts, doing things he doesn't usually do! Running past jumps, entering the weaves super-late, running behind me to go on the contacts and table...but this was his first time training on the field this year (thanks for noting that, Ashley), so it's no wonder he was acting really green. He did have a lot of fun, though!

I didn't run Mika in Clockwatcher's, but I did run Wall-e, with Helen and her great sheltie Beckett. More running past jumps! Looks like Wall-e will be going back to square one with sequencing for a while :) No matter, I enjoy these training challenges, they're what makes agility interesting. And after all, Wall-e is just telling me that I need to improve my training skills in this area. The video is below:


We did the Standard demo again in the afternoon. I didn't run Mika again because there were two big black dogs RIGHT next to the fence, actually right where Mika would be running towards to enter the second last tunnel; I definitely didn't want to put her in that situation. Wall-e ran again, though. His second Standard run wasn't much different than the first, but again, he did have a smile on his face the whole time, so I wasn't unhappy! But he had a BEAUTIFUL A-frame that I just had to reward. When he soared over the top, I expected him to miss his 2on2off, but nope, he stopped right when he was supposed to.


So it was a fun day and I now know that I have a lot to work on in terms of refreshing Wall-e's knowledge of sequencing! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fun match May 14, 2011

I had this big post typed up and saved it to publish later, but today I looked and all my writing was gone. Sooo, I'll just post the videos :)



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mika's bloodwork results

Got Mika's results back today. Here are the most significant results:

Free T4: 22.9 (normal range 7.7-47.6), fine. This is the biggest reason that I got Mika tested, although I'm wondering if I should do the other tests in the thyroid panel (T3, T4, free T3, and TgAA).

ALT: 18 (normal range 24-141), vet recommended a homeopathic remedy called Genestra (Seroyal) for the adrenal glands.

Vitamin E: deficiency, vet recommended multi-vitamin by Rx Essentials.

Selenium: deficiency, multi-vitamin applies as well. Our vet said that it was interesting that I'd been concerned about Mika's thinning coat, since selenium is essential for coat and skin health, and Mika is deficient, so....Hmm.

All in all, the vet said that Mika is very very healthy for a Miniature Schnauzer of her age (6.5 years old, 7 in October), as she sees many schnauzers in her practice who have several health problems.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Need advice

So out of 7 runs, (4 Masters Gamblers and 3 Starters Snookers), Mika and I haven't Q'd at all yet this year. I know it's not about the Q's, and I definitely don't place a lot of value on Q's (it's all about the fun, drive, and speed for me!!). But it would be nice to improve our game.

I need advice. How do you guys do so well in Gamblers and Snooker? I'm just kind of at a loss.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mika trial May 7, 2011

Both of us really enjoyed our Starters Snooker run today, even though it was pretty short! :)

I just loved the way Mika released from the start-line. I can picture very clearly her expression, filled with anticipation and abandon, as she flew over the jump, and then dug into the dirt to turn. It's different on the video -- you can't see her expression as she goes over the jump -- but I hope I will always remember it!

I wrapped the tire weirdly because I used our "capcapcap" cue, which means to wrap to the right, and I've admittedly never trained the cik/cap wrap cues specifically with the tire, so I was sure that Mika would back-jump it; but she didn't! But as I was clapping my hands to bring Mika towards me, my feet were pointing towards the weaves, and
Mika snagged the weaves because they were the first obstacle she saw. Still, it was fun seeing her racing towards those weaves even as I was running away from them; she didn't get the entry, but staying committed to the weaves as I moved away is pretty great! Her coolness factor went up even higher than it already is :)


Thursday, May 5, 2011

First training session at the field!

Today we went to the field for the first time this year, woohoo! I wanted to try out that tough sequence that I mentioned several days ago, but I'd rather not set up a sequence for only one dog to run (since Wall-e is on rest). So instead, Mika and I played around with teeter banging, angled dog walk entries, and rear crosses.

I put a jump standard under one end of the teeter to create a drop of 2-3". As soon as Mika saw the teeter, she trotted over to bang it.

Then we did two angled DW entries. I used a jump wing to help Mika straighten her body onto the DW. The first entry was about 30 degrees, and the second was about 45. We'll continue working on these in future sessions until Mika can send from angles over 90 degrees.

Finally, we worked on RC's. I'd set up the short double-RC sequence (just three jumps) from our last Snooker run on April 1. The first two reps, I just rewarded Mika for taking the tire, which she had passed by during our run at the trial. The last rep, I added the second RC (and the last jump).

Trial on Saturday, a Starters Snooker run :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mika's vet appointment

Mika had a routine vet appointment today. It was actually the first vet appointment I've had with Mika, over the past couple of years, that didn't make me leave the hospital worried about Mika's health! It was an odd feeling to be leaving with somewhat of a sense of calm....

Mika knew where we were going right after we got out of the car. I was carrying her, and as we started walking in the direction of the vet hospital, she started screaming/barking. Poor girl wouldn't take treats and I didn't know what to do. I regret not spraying her collar with DAP; I don't know if it would have helped, but it would have been worth a try.

Then I weighed her on the scale; 13.6 pounds. She weighed 12.4 pounds at our last exam; she has gained more muscle mass since then, but I think she also needs to lose a bit of extra "flabby weight" as well! She's not overweight at all, but I like to keep my dogs very slim for agility.

Mika finally took a few treats as we were waiting for the vet. She was shaking, though.

Then our vet arrived, and we went into the exam room. She checked Mika over and had no concerns at all. Then I mentioned how I've noticed that Mika's fur has been thinning (all over her body, not in patches), and that I'd like to have her thyroid tested. (Hypothyroidism is a hugely underdiagnosed problem, and thinning fur is one of the symptoms of it.) Our vet wasn't too concerned about her thyroid, but agreed to start with a free T4 test, which can also be included in a huge collection of tests including tests for the liver, kidneys, pancreas, etc. I kind of wanted the full thyroid panel, but agreed to go along with her suggestion because it included a lot of other tests that are very important for aging Miniature Schnauzers.

Mika was taken in the back to have her blood drawn, and I felt just terrible; she must have bee so stressed and wondering what was going on, why these "strange people" were taking her away. I'm sure she was extremely cooperative -- she always is -- but I couldn't help worrying. Of course, in a few minutes she was brought back, and all was well again. The vet told us that we'll be called about the test results in around two days.

Then our exam was done. Our vet let us know that there was a German Shepherd outside in the waiting room, and so I was prepared as I walked out of the exam room with Mika in my arms, turning my body to block her view of the other dog; but then I saw that it was a big BLACK German Shepherd, ugh oh. But Mika didn't see the GSD right away, until the owner walked into the exam room with it, and then she was just so eager and relieved to be leaving the vet that she didn't care at all.

I'm resting Wall-e for two weeks because a few days ago, on Sunday, I noticed that he was slightly lame in his front right leg (was limping a bit). He's not limping at all anymore, but I'll still continue resting him, just in case. I'm glad that it's not his rear leg again, although I'd been hoping that he could go the full year without any lameness, no matter how slight, but at least it's nothing big. I find it's ironic that Wall-e's been lame three times in the past year because he is SO fit and slim, and has awesome muscle mass...I guess it's just his hard-driving way of living that he chooses that makes him more likely to be injured. Especially running along the fence in the backyard chasing cars, which I've been limiting, but he's so crazy about doing it that I suspect it's caused two of the three lamenesses he's experienced (one was caused by agility for sure, but the other two are unknown).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mika trial April 17, 2011

After this post, I'll be caught up with trials; phew!

Again, we ran two Masters Gamblers at this trial.

I love how Mika started off our first run (shown below); I started with her and she just blasted off when I let her go. A couple times during this run, she thought I was rear crossing and flipped away from me, when in reality I was trying to cue a same-side turn...I guess that's a sign that my RC's haven't been so great lately. She also did a huge leap over the apex of the A-frame in this run, which I was thrilled about! (It's hard to see in the video, unfortunately.) We didn't get the gamble; I got stuck on the line.


Our second run was fun too. There was a malfunction or something with the timer, so we had to wait on the line a few minutes as they got that sorted out. I held Mika for the first couple of minutes, but she was whining and just really wanted to run, so I tugged with her using her leash. I didn't expect her to tug because I thought she'd be stressed from all the waiting, but she was such a good girl and tugged intensely like her usual self! As for the actual run, it went pretty well. There was one point in the opening where Mika anticipated my turn cue at the tire and stopped in front of it; I have to work on re-building her obstacle focus (and I spent so much time last year trying to lessen her obstacle focus, haha!). There's such a fine balance between too much and not enough obstacle focus. With the gamble, Mika didn't see the jump she was supposed to take and came back to me instead of staying out. I should have gotten back from the line some more so I could give a more obvious push. Oh well :)



On another note, our agility club set up the field today, woohoo!! I have to submit my membership/waiver today, and then tomorrow I hope to go to the field with both dogs and train on part of a challenging jumpers course from a forum I go on. I'm so excited for this year and what we will hopefully accomplish, mostly in terms of training. Remember, as I said at the beginning of the year, this is our "Year of Progress" :)