Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Exercise Night

Ugh, I've got a skull cracking headache that I've been fighting since I had a drug reaction on Monday, so I'll keep it short.

I thought next week was exercise night, but it was tonight, so Holly sat out until class was over and then I did some of the exercises with her.

We had the obligatory weave entry and front cross/back cross/wrap handling exercises, and then restrained recalls for the weaves, the A-frame and the dog walk. The first time Mikey and I did the restrained recalls, C just laughed and laughed. She said she could feel his heart pounding and his whole body vibrating while she held him. And then, every single time Mikey was released, he let out this high pitched SCREAM of excitement! Seriously! And he was catching air on the A-frame. He's such a goofy boy; doG knows, he keeps me smiling!

Holly was a little distracted; I think partly because she was a little miffed at having to wait, and primarily because she's been out of training for so long. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around Mikey being better in agility than Holly; I keep expecting her to react the same way Mikey does since she always used to be ahead of him, having started her training earlier. But after a year off, Mikey has gone far ahead of her.

Oh, and Jules asked what was up with Holly that she's been out of agility for most of a year. Holly has hip dysplacia. I've been really conflicted about what to do with Holly; she hasn't been lame or stiff at all since she's been on Rimadyl, and I've reduced the dose by half. And she loves agility. A couple of years ago I would have never considered running a dog in agility with physical problems, but I have a slightly different perspective after living with rheumatoid arthritis. I do have more pain in the couple of days after class or a trial, but it's worth it (most of the time). I don't know for sure if Holly is having pain after class, I can only judge by observing her movement, which so far looks as free and loose the day after class as the day before class. While I can make the decision to do agility in spite of pain for myself, I can't do the same for Holly. If she ever seems to be stiff or lame after playing agility, I will have to pull her out again.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That Was Fun!

And educational! Apparently I have developed some lazy habits while running Mikey that became painfully obvious running Holly.

Holly had a great time and did pretty darn good for a dog that has been off from agility for so long. However, the naughty little thing chewed through her leash the second time I ran Mikey on course and ran out to run the course with us! Guess I'll have to take a crate with me next week. Everybody thought is was pretty cute, and I guess it was; but still naughty, naughty.

You know, I was so thrilled to be able to try running Holly in agility again, but one thing I never thought of. . . After all this time of going to class with just Mikey, I felt like, while I was giving something special back to Holly, I was also taking something special away from Mikey. . .

Crazy I know! I think part of the problem is that I ended up running them back to back because there were no other small dogs in class and felt like I wasn't mentally prepared to run Mikey right after finishing with Holly, so I wasn't giving him everything I could, if that makes sense. Hopefully I'll get better at running the two of them. (And hopefully Holly'll be able to continue!)

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi' and 'Oh boy! Agility OUR favorite!'


Holly is going to run in agility class tonight and I'm so excited I can't stand it! I can't wait to see the look on her face when she realizes that she gets to play too, not just Mikey! I can't wait to see her little face coming out of a tunnel! I can't wait to see the sparkle in her eyes at the start line! I can't wait for her to bitch me out (no pun intended) for getting it wrong! I can't wait!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Or Maybe Not

There are three ways to cross our bayou. At the concrete spillway, which usually only has a trickle of water over it, where the street crosses over the bayou, or find a silt island and cross there (if the water level is low) by jumping over the little streams that go around the islands. Does all this make sense? Of course, at this time of year, those little islands are covered in a thick growth of water plants.

This evening we walked on the 'other' side of the bayou for a while and I thought we could short cut back across the bayou on a little island, since we had done the same thing at the same place last week. I made the dogs wait for me to go first so I could make sure they crossed where they wouldn't get muddy. Right as I was ready to jump over to the island, I saw a good sized stick nestled in the plants right where I was going to jump. A stick? Eeeeeek!!! A snake!

Short cut anyone? Maybe not!

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

One More Local Agility

Flashpaws. Run by Jane Simmons-Moake and her husband (can't remember his name) on Houston's north side. Most people that have been in agility for a while have probably hear of Jane, either has a competitor or author. I guess I forgot about Flashpaws because I've never trained with them, although my dad has on and off for years. FYI for Cait's friend.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Return of the Diva?

So, for several weeks now, my brain (or heart?) has been tortured because Holly is getting left out. . . a lot. I really, really miss playing agility with her, and I think she misses it too. I know she used to enjoy it, and if nothing else she enjoyed 'working' with me. And I've noticed some slow, subtle changes in here attitude; I don't think her needs are being met. Try as I might to give her lots of attention, it's just not the same as actually working together. And I keep thinking, she's doing really well and is down to half a dose of Rimadyl, and I think she's short enough to run in the 4 or 6 inch preferred. And so, this morning, Holly got to run a course at Leaps n Bounds when I went over to practice with Mikey. Kind of a trial run to see how she feels the next couple of days. If she seems to continue feeling good, I'll put her in Mikey's class and consider entering her in trials next fall. I will only run her in Jumpers classes, since I think the A-frame would put too much stress on her hips. At class, we can just skip the A-frame.

Holly did really well this morning, and quite obviously was having a great time! Maybe my sassy little Agility Diva is on her way back!

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh No!

They've scalped the bayou! I guess there goes the wild flowers for me this year. . . Glad I managed to get some pics of the few wildflowers out there on Sunday.

In other news, I'm not doing so well. I left work at noon and spent the afternoon wrapped head to toe in a heated blanket on high. The good news is that I managed to get an appointment with my rheumatologist next week; hope I can get some help.

Also, Cait asked about agility classes on the north side of Houston. Here are the actual links - Leaps n' Bounds and Dogwood. I took all of my early obedience classes with both Holly and Mikey at Dogwood, and they're really good and have a defined training philosophy and are very methodical. I've been going to Leaps n' Bounds since the original instructor with Rough n' Ready agility club retired. Leaps n' Bounds doesn't seem to have as much of a defined training philosophy and they only do handling exercises once a month (at least in the competition class, it may be different in beginner classes), but I think there is a much more relaxed atmosphere in comparison to Dogwood. Just my two cents.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Capital City Agility Trial

Compromise was the name of the game. I'm still feeling pretty icky (although no sinus infection, confirmed by the dr), so I decided to just run in Standard and Jumpers and not stay for the FAST class; that way I could get home by 7ish instead of past 10 at night.

We had a pretty nice day, starting out with an absolutely gorgeous drive through the Texas country side. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful today, and all of the trees and the grass were that bright spring green. And the wild flowers! Field after field with every shade of pink and orange and yellow and, of course, bluebonnets.

Our first class was Standard, and except for a little oops at the first jump, it was a lovely clean run. I left Mikey waiting at the start and then made the mistake of looking back to check on him half way to where I wanted to start from and he was off! He came around the first jump to me (I think because he saw the look on my face), but I sent him back around the first jump and it was only a five point refusal. The rest of the run was great, with a score of 95 at 49.86 seconds (SCT was 75).

Our Jumpers run was a mixed bag. Mikey hit a bar on the very first jump, and there was 'something' going on with the tunnel, but over all I was very pleased with our run. The 'something' with the tunnel - the first dog on course went into the tunnel, then turned around and came back out, and then did it again, and again, and finally took the tunnel. Next, Mikey did the same thing, but after he refused the tunnel the third time, I decided I better listen to him and just skipped the tunnel. After we finished our run I stopped by the stewards desk and suggested that they check the tunnel, as Mikey has never refused a tunnel, and the dog before us did the same thing. Well, after four more dogs in a row had the same problem, they finally did check the tunnel, and ended up bringing a new tunnel out and replacing it. I never did find out what was in the tunnel.

I was very please with both runs in that the areas of both courses that I had the most concerns about went very smoothly and Mikey and I both had so much FUN!

Oh, and on the way home I stopped by a honey farm. Unfortunately they were out of chunk and cut comb honey, but I got some great honey roasted sunflower seeds to munch on on my way home, and they gave me the name of someone in my area for honey (if I can find their phone number).

Currently re-reading 'The Clan of the Cave Bear' by Jean Auel.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Some Texas wildflower pictures I found on the internet (and yes, it really does look this beautiful in spring in Texas). I wish I had my camera with me today. . .

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cr@ppy Course Night

Ugh! Boy, was I off tonight; had trouble remembering the course, had trouble remembering the names of obstacles ('Mikey, Go Thing!' or 'Mikey, ummmmm?'), had trouble keeping from tripping over myself, Mikey, the jumps, you name it. Good thing I was running Mikey, because when Holly used to do agility with me, my performance tonight would have earned me a serious tongue lashing in front of doG and everyone. Seriously. Holly has no problem telling me off at the top of her voice. Mikey, however is more patient, and mostly just looked confused tonight (until I stepped on him, at which point he did give me a look that clearly said 'Geez, get your sh!t together!').

All humor aside, tonight was really awful. I normally feel energized after class, even if I'm not feeling well physically, but tonight, not so much. I've been really wiped (or whipped, or both) all week and I wonder if I've got a sinus infection setting in. I think I'll try and get in to the docs tomorrow. On the other hand, fatigue is a normal condition for RA, and headaches are a side effect of Enbrel, so it may be nothing.

Right now I'm a bit up in the air about the trial this weekend. This one is several hours away and just the thought of driving there is making me feel more tired, much less the thought of running Mikey in three classes. I guess I'm hoping I've got a sinus infection and that a couple of days of antibiotics will help and I'll feel up to going; the weather this weekend is forecast to be just gorgeous.

Currently reading 'Inside the World of Warren Jeffs' by Dr. Carole A. Western.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


At least, that's what we call it at our house. As in, 'Who wants cube?' and then the dogs come running into the kitchen (you know, like ice 'cube'). I had a coupon for Ice Pups and it's been a hit. Since the weather here is already into the mid-80's with high humidity, a nice cold treat after our evening walk apparently hits the spot.

Also, I've got to tell you about the bullfrog we came across on our walk this evening. I've been hearing the bullfrogs bellowing back and forth to each other up and down the bayou in the mornings, but until this evening hadn't actually laid eyes on them. The dogs were lagging a bit behind me and then I heard this little scuffle and turned around to see this huge bullfrog making the most unbelievable leaps down into the bayou. We were at a spillway where large rocks have been used to line the bayou and this guy made the most graceful, flying leaps rock to rock until - plop - into the bayou. Seriously, this bullfrog was big enough that for a minute I thought he was some freaky flying squirrel. The weird animal adventures continue! Wish I had my camera with me!

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunny Spring Morning

What a gorgeous, cool, bright sunny morning! There are only a few wild flowers blooming; I can't wait for everything to start blooming on the bayou.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

And look at this guy at my front windows; barely leafed out, but already blooming his heart out.


Can you believe I actually set my alarm clock, after all I said yesterday? I must be a glutton for punishment. At least I snapped to my senses this morning. Instead, after a nice walkie on the bayou, I'm going to go to the hardware store (or Academy) and look for a tarp. At the last agility trial I saw a great idea. One lady had a black mesh tarp (the kind that lets air flow through it) that covered her entire car. She had her windows wide open and the hatch up, and had essentially created an artificial tree to sit under. No tent poles or anything, she just draped the entire car. What a great idea for us, since I hate setting up in the crating area; the noise and activity make it hard for me (or Mikey, or Holly) to relax and get some rest.

There are a couple of small, local breed shows in the fall, and I think I'm going to just forget about trying to get that last bloody point until then. It's tempting to pull him out for Reliant, since it's a nice, clean place to show, and we won't be showing in agility there (concrete floor with a thin carpet overlay in the agility rings). Anyone have some advice for just getting over the feeling that I have to finish Mikey. Since he has a couple of health problems that will keep me from breeding him, does it really matter at all? I think I'm just having a hard time mentally with starting something (anything), and not finishing it.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Not The Fun Part

The problem; I just don't enjoy breed shows any more, and haven't' for a while. And it shows. Mostly in my handling. Poor Mikey. He was a complete sh!t; I couldn't get his nose off the ground long enough for the judge to see his gait, I couldn't get his nose off the table long enough to stack him, and he wouldn't hold still long enough for the judge to examine him. There was nothing for her to judge. And I'm convinced that his biggest problem was that he was picking up on my angst. Mapquest led us on a wild goose chase, so we were late getting there; as in showing up in time to pull Mikey out of the car, put my jacket on, and hustle to the ring and grab my number, watch the first Cardi, and walk in the ring. And the show site was muddy - with red clay. Just a mess of a morning, start to finish. I'm not going tomorrow. And I'm really questioning why I feel like I have to finish Mikey, since I do this for fun, and today wasn't fun for anyone.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Yup, our new resident is a broad-banded water snake. 'Clint the Snake Man' responded today to the e-mail I sent with a picture and confirmed it. I guess the little guy is welcome to stay. Any suggestions on names?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Exercise Night

Exercise night tonight; honestly I enjoy running courses more, partly because it's not as exhausting. There was only one other person in my jump height tonight, so Mikey and I stayed busy. Poor little Mikey, it's so humid right now and temps were probably around 80 or the upper 70's at class time; he got tired really fast with the heat/humidity and knocked a lot of jumps (plus he looked pretty pathetic).

Keep your fingers (and toes, eyes, whatever) crossed. Mikey is entered in breed Saturday and Sunday. Please doG, let Mikey get that last bloody point!!!!!

Currently re-reading 'Califia's Daughters' by Leigh Richards.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Pet? and More About Those Pics

Ummm, about the new pet - see below. This is not a pet I am really interested in keeping. . . I looked around on the net and I think this is a broad banded water snake; at least I hope it is since it seems to have decided to take up residence in the siding on my front porch! I got the picture Monday morning; he just hung out there, just like you see, all morning. And all afternoon, and all evening, and this morning, and afternoon, and evening. I think I'm going to send the picture in an e-mail to the folks at the above web site. Keep your fingers crossed the little guy isn't venomous, since that would freak me out even more than I already am. You would think with all the coming and going from my front door this guy would find a quieter place to live. . . Anybody know a non-lethal way to get a snake to go away?

And about those trial pictures everybody loves - yes, I'm spoiled to have my own personal photographer! Actually, my mom is becoming a bit famous with the local trialling community as she generously takes pictures of specific dogs if asked and e-mails the photos. At the last trial we went to, she put a print out of photos she had taken from the previous trial at the check-in desk and if someone added their address to the photo, she sent the pics by e-mail. I think she ended up with 20 plus people to e-mail by the end of the day. Mmmm hmmm, my mom's AWESOME!

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi' and 'Something smells funny around the front door, but mom won't let us check it out!'