Friday, January 29, 2010

Awesome Practice

Last night we finally got back to our regular Thursday night practices with some friends and our demo group. As was usual, we ran three nested courses that were of significant difficulty. The courses included tight turns, wrapping jumps, serpentines, and obstacle discrimination. It was great!

The funny thing is that Vegas very obviously loved it as much as ever - if not more so. She was like a slingshot off of nearly every obstacle and I was full-on running almost the entire time. She was a complete nut and I really had to be on my toes to give her the correct queues. What becomes more and more apparent though is how much potential I have to stop her forward motion into some obstacles based upon how soon I pull away, the shift of my shoulders, etc. I really need to be more and more aware of this and specifically, aware of this before I do it instead of after. We are really to the stage where I need to finetune my handling skills including body awareness and queues I give her unknowingly. A longer term goal is to work on increased distance handling; however, for right now I need to be firm in what I do and giving her the right queues then assessing her responses to them.

Needless to say though, we had a blast and she went home a very hungry then very tired girl.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dane or Powerhouse?

Tonight I managed to get home in just enough time to take a quick ride around the neighborhood with Vegas on the bike to enjoy some fresh air and rainless weather. It was definitely needed after a great weekend trialing but not quite enough hard-core activity. Plus, Vegas hasn't been about to do much real activity in over a month now so we haven't been biking. That made for a very energetic doggy. I almost had to laugh at her during the first few blocks, although I didn't because I was too worried about her pulling me over. I was trying to adjust my gears to where I needed them and she was full steam ahead!

If I haven't mentioned it before, Vegas really enjoys biking! I usually try to keep a steady, slower pace for warm-up where she is at a smooth, gaited trot. Today she was ready to go into a full out run without even warming up. In fact, it wasn't until we had gone about a mile that she finally acted like she wanted to trot versus run. This was a really good reminder of how important it is for me to be able to keep up this kind of exercise for her - and me. She really enjoys it and the endurance and cardiac benefit for both of us is helpful for agility, hiking, snowshoeing, and any number of other activities we enjoy. The weather is supposed to hold for the next couple of days so I'm going to try to get out as much as possible and start building us back up again. And the extra added benefit is having a super tired dog when I need to get other things done that are more "quiet time" activities.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

4th and Final Day of Rose City Classic 2010

Today was our last day of the Rose City Classic for 2010. Part of me is sad. After all, why wouldn't I want to trial every day? On second thought, my dog's body deserves a rest and my poor legs do too after being on them on concrete floors the majority of five days. Going into this trial I had set myself (and Vegas) a goal. The goal was to finish her novice AKC agility title so I could add the NA after her name. Going into day 1, she had two JWW legs and one Standard. Based upon our traditional CPE Q rate of 70%, this goal did not seem unreasonable. However, that was not to be.

This morning was Vegas' first Open JWW run. The course is below. We ran small to tall today and that gave me an opportunity to watch the others in the open level. One after one after one I watched them struggle - dogs knocking bars; dogs going in the wrong side of the tunnel; dogs going off course. I had walked the course enough times I felt fairly comfortable with it. I felt it had a nice flow and was not overly complicated - a nice feeling considering some of the courses I walked this week. Vegas pulled out all the stops for me today and it was an absolute wonderful feeling to walk off the course with my girl, so proud of her. Although we did not Q for this run, I'm certain I must have signaled her inadvertently and caused her to knock a bar. Otherwise it was a faultless run and she even took the 12 weaves without having to restart. This was especially important in Open because we are faulted for everything from missed entry, going past the plane of the obstacle, and incompletion. I'm told the reason dogs are knocking bars who normally would not has to do with the rubber matting we're running on and their decreased ability to get traction. I sure hope so as I thought we had broken that bad habit a long time ago. I think it was more about her shifting her body mid-air in response to a queue I gave her such as moving away too soon. Her run time was 36.23 seconds.
Our second and final run of the day was Novice Standard. The judge, Scott Stock, flipped a coin each day at briefing to determine whether the table would be a down or a sit. Fortunate for all of us novice people, today was another sit. For Vegas and I, this is particularly good. She just really doesn't like the down on the table for some reason. I can't figure out if it's all about the size of the table, the (dis)comfort factor, or a confidence thing. I'm going to continue to focus on this in our one-on-one sessions at the practice barn and possibly come up with some tactics I can use at home such as a box representing the table that she must lay down on before getting a meal. Nonetheless, she rocked the course this afternoon and scored a 100, running it in just 51.63 seconds. The SCT (Standard Course Time) was 61 seconds and the course yardage was 127. That means her YPS (Yards Per Second) was 2.46. I was so proud of her! This was her second leg for standard. That means we have just one more novice standard leg to go to complete our novice title. Yippee! Our next AKC trial is in two weeks and is hosted by the Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher Club at the Clark County Fairgrounds. It'll be nice to run on good, old, familiar, horse-pooped-on dirt again.
(I have to apologize for this map. I tried scanning in three times and each time it got more messed up than the last. I finally gave up.)

One notable mention from this trial...there were SO few tunnels! I could not believe it as each day passed and we had one tunnel or fewer. In looking back over the courses, we had a total of 7 tunnels, one of which was optional for us that I used in our FAST class one day. The chutes were not included in this count but I don't worry about them too much because it doesn't require Vegas to be down so low for a prolonged period. She is still really tired tonight but I mostly think that has to do with four days of trialing plus the overstimulating environment.

Here are a few pictures from the trial:

Here's one more photo from the Rose City Classic, compliments of Nina's Photography:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 2 and 3 of Rose City Classic

Yesterday was a rough day. I beat up on myself pretty bad. I'm used to doing well at what I do and I have also gotten used to Vegas' and my 70% success rate at CPE trials. As of the end of day 2, we had just one Q out of 6 runs. That was a tough pill to swallow. I realize it's a different venue (only our 2nd AKC trial); I realize it is a stressful environment (big building, more people, lots of noises); I realize it's a different surface (rubber matting as opposed to dirt). But I set my goals high and I hate to fail. So, without further ado, here are the courses and some comments.

As you can see from the faint highlighting, this is the course I chose to run Vegas on. She did everything precisely. The only hiccup we had was missing our down contact on the a-frame by about 2". That made for an automatic failure to complete the obstacle and we NQd. That was a bummer because it was a beautiful run otherwise and she had plenty of time.

Vegas ran our standard course quite beautifully but we ended up NQing again because of a single knocked bar. My friend, Jami, said I turned my shoulder a smidgen too early and pulled her off the jump too soon causing her to shift her legs mid-air and knock the bar down.

All in all, day 2 was a tough one and I went to bed very early as I was pretty darn frustrated.

Day 3 dawned a better day though as Vegas was awesome in a JWW course that I thought would give us trouble. You'll notice after jump 2, 6, and 11, another jump is directly ahead and in each instance the dog needs to head another direction. She didn't hesitate in listening to me and pulled it off like a champ. She earned her Novice Jumpers (NAJ) title this morning and our last day of the trial we'll try an Open level JWW run.

Our standard run was the last of the day today and we NQd on it because of time. The allotted time was 62 seconds; we were 82 and change. Vegas really does not like laying down in public and especially on the table. Prior to starting AKC she had only made contact with the table to end a run. Having to sit or down on the table has been a challenge and continues to be. However, today it was kind of my fault. I had her in a down relatively quickly then turned to get my landmark on the a-frame. She stood and took her sweet time laying down again, burning a lot of time. As it stands, we need 2 standard legs to finish our novice title.

Tomorrow is our last day. We have a JWW run and another Standard course. Instead of offering a FAST class today and tomorrow, they subbed ISC courses that were optional for Excellent competitors to enter. The winner of today's run is eligible to compete for a spot on the USA World Team. They were definitely fast dogs and a challenging course with tighter turns and lots of back-jumping and wrapping jumps.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rose City Classic, 2010 - Day 1

Today was the first complete/official day of the 2010 Rose City Classic. This is a huge dog show held in Portland, Oregon, every year in January. Wednesday was an unofficial starting day with breed specialty shows, a little bit of rally and obedience, and today through Sunday, January 24 will be more of the same plus continued shows for each breed.

The day began early! We were up at 4:30 am so I could feed Vegas and allow at least 3 hours for her food to settle/digest before her first run. I always allow at least that much time or just don't feed her breakfast to avoid the risk of gastric dilation and volvulus (AKA bloat and torsion). I had pretty much gotten everything ready but made the kids and I peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, loaded the truck, and headed out. Let me tell you, Vegas was so excited to go and practically pushed her way out the door before me in all her excitement - and concern of being left behind, of course. Unfortunately she was a whiner about halfway there. She's not the best traveler on the best of days but she is super excitable right now due to her lack of activity. As I sit writing this though, those moments are over at least until next week. She's sawing logs....

We had never been measured by an AKC official so had to take care of that right away. It was kind of funny because they measure dogs on a table (agility table) normally. However, that was not going to work for Vegas nor was using their regular measurement tool. Instead, the official set the tool on the edge of the table, extended the arm over the edge, and used a tape measure to measure how high he held the tool, Vegas stepped under, he marked it over her withers, and she stepped out. Then he remeasured using the tape against where her withers had stood and that was that. Funny thing is, she was exactly what I knew her to be and he then checked the box requesting a permanent height card be issued without further measurement because she was clearly tall enough to always jump 24" - there was no concern over whether she would need a lower jump height. So for starters, I'm glad that is done and now it will be officially marked in the AKC records.

We ran tall to small today and were entered in all three classes in the following order: FAST, Jumpers with Weaves (JWW), and Standard. We're still in novice and I had really high hopes to finish today with our NAJ title (novice jumpers) but that was not to be. Perhaps I should just be happy if we finish novice this weekend and not worry about much else.

Here is a map of the first course including two colored lines; the light blue was my intended path and the purple is what we ended up doing. The goal of FAST was to get done in 32 seconds with 50 points or more, plus complete the send (obstacles 6 and 9, in order, on the right of the map). After talking with my friend, Jami, I took her advice, mapped a simple quick course and headed straight for the send. The main reason for this was to avoid NQing by not completing the send or losing points by going over time. It worked! Vegas ran the purple path in 13.57 seconds scoring 54 points!!! We qualified with a first place finish. This is a great way to start the day and warm up the dog. FAST is a class that is not required and does not affect upward mobility between levels. It's just for fun.

Our next run followed shortly thereafter and was JWW. The course didn't look too difficult and I was excited for a qualifying run so we could earn our NAJ title. Unfortunately that wasn't in the works today. I'm not sure if it was my queuing late or something else, but Vegas knocked a bar on jump 3 and then ran past the weaves when we got to them and I had to call her back. Fortunately she went right through them when I called her back and I was grateful for that. The rest was a breeze, but the thing with JWW is that you can't knock a bar down. So, there went our Q. Perhaps tomorrow....

Last but not least, and what seemed like an interminable wait later, we got to run our standard course. I thought we fairly well had this one nailed too, but Vegas refused the weaves again quite a bit and that became a struggle. I was pretty steamed at her by the time we finished because she knows how to weave and I can't figure why she won't do them consistently at trial - especially AKC trials. Again, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

We did come home and work on 6 weaves only for a while and she blasted through them. We usually practice on 12 at the barn and some people have said maybe that's the problem. I just don't know. And one other final note, this was Vegas' first time running on rubber matting and she did really well! Lots of people said the dogs will run slower but I didn't really notice that. Hopefully she'll continue to be unaffected by this and the noise that comes with competing in a huge building with lots of concrete, vaulted ceilings, and tons of people, dogs, and activity.

And with that, I'm off to bed soon as it was an early day and I'm beat.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Final Allergy Testing Results

Today I received the long awaited call from the allergist I took Vegas to see, Animal Allergy and Ear Clinic. A while back I'd posted about the initial visit where they did all the skin testing, and subsequent to that visit we were to await blood test results which were sent out to a specialty lab. Upon receipt of these results, Dr. Randall and staff will create a serum specific to Vegas' allergies and we'll begin giving her injections at home. As if our previous visit did not result in enough weeds, trees, and grasses Vegas is sensitive to, today turned out to present even more. I asked the clinic to fax me the lab results as I was curious. The blood testing ranks allergies on a scale of 0 - 6 and she ranked a 5 on a couple of items. It appears between the two tests, two of the things Vegas is most allergic to are dandelions and clover. Yikes - where can I possibly go to NOT find those things? I'm thinking a golf course... and we live in the Northwest and she is somewhat allergic to pine trees, maple trees, red cedar trees, and a few others. Yikes again! Hopefully in a few months I'll be fortunate enough to post that she's comfortable and happy without itchies for the first time in her short life. My poor girl.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hip hip hooray!

Today Vegas and I ran agility at the practice barn and not only did she completely and totally rock, she's completely sound! No limping whatsoever. Ran, jumped, weaved, dove through tunnels, chased her ball, and generally was her typical nutty self loving every minute of it. ROSE CITY CLASSIC here we come!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tomorrow is the day

Tomorrow is THE day. We're going to the practice barn tomorrow afternoon to see how Vegas does with a real workout. I've relaxed her restrictions over the last few days and let her romp a bit in the house, play some tug-o-war, and move at a faster pace than a walk. I'm not seeing any limping at all. Hopefully we'll have a great practice at the barn tomorrow and I can rest easy between then and Thursday at 6 am.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Venues We Compete In and Why

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to highlight the abilities of one of the largest breeds of dogs. So many misconceptions exist about their abilities, their purpose, and perhaps even doubts about their athleticism. If I had even a dime for every time I had heard comments about "horse" and "saddle" when walking around with Vegas, I could take a really nice vacation. Then there's the idea that Great Danes are only couch decor. Seriously? So my blog is about debunking some of those misconceptions in a fun way that showcases the fun Vegas has being a gigantic dog doing quite well in what is often a Border Collie sport. That said, many breeds are now competing in agility and succeeding. However, in today's post I want to discuss the venues I have chosen to compete in with Vegas and why. I began a while back to break down the differences between venues and will likely resurrect it again at some point when I have the time. But for now we'll just discuss what we're doing and why this suits us best.

CPE is a venue that is a lot of fun and, possibly, less competitive than other venues. At least that is what I'm told but I guess competitiveness is all up to the individual. One of the reason I like it is because there are so many kinds of runs and a full weekend would be 5 each day for a total of 10. Frequently, the hosting club will schedule two runs of Standard each day so you can really make progress if you're dog is on. Another reason why CPE works for us is because the highest jump height is 24". Vegas measures 32.5" at the withers so could easily jump higher. However, with a large dog that is as heavy as she is, what is the point in jumping the highest? She will clear a 24" jump by quite a bit anyway. The difference is in the landing. She will land much heavier than any other dog competing and this translates to increased pressure in the shoulder, legs, and back as she lands. Another reason we like CPE is because there are fewer tunnels than at least one of the other venues. Tunnels are 24". Tunnels are belted down so they don't move with all the dogs going through them. If a belt slips between the ribs of a tunnel, it could reduce the size by up to 4". All of this translates into comfort for Vegas and added wear and tear on her body.

Lastly, when I started training in agility and finally began hearing about the different venues and their differences, I was told CPE could be a bit easier to succeed in. Originally I was told the times were a little bit more lax and that would help, too. However, I do believe AKC is less restrictive on time. What I have learned though is that in most cases the courses in CPE are a little less tight. This makes turning and maneuverability easier - particularly with a larger dog who lands longer, strides farther, and can't move quite as quick mid-air, etc. So far this is working for us. Since our first CPE trial around March or April of 2009, we have completed Level 1 and are only 2 legs away from completing Level 2 with a good start on Level 3.

 AKC is a venue I avoided for some time. I had this misconception that it was too difficult for us and the fear of failure and embarrassment kept me from it. Then I started hearing some other things such as that times alloted were more forgiving than some venues. It also began occurring to me that since I do run a non-traditional breed, this would be a great way to gain recognition for Great Danes and show people what they can do. Someone told me it would be pretty easy to get invited to a regional invitational with Vegas because there just aren't many Danes competing in the area. In fact, other than Lindsay and another friend, Shana, I've seen two other Dane competitors in the year we've been competing. One has been around for 20-some years and lives in the Olympia area. The other person I saw at just one trial and never again, although it's possible we just compete at different venues.

Our first AKC trial was in November of last year, and I was still very nervous going into it. However, shortly before that I was fortunate enough to have been able to get a lesson in with Craig French and he went over all the rules and set up an AKC styled course for me to run the day of our lesson. That made a big difference for me as I felt like I had been debriefed - and in many ways I had; Craig is a former AKC judge and long-time competitor with Dobermans. Plus, he was at the trial that weekend for moral support and guidance. It turns out we did okay! Vegas had two qualifying JWW (Jumpers with Weaves) runs that weekend plus one Standard putting us halfway through completing our novice title (NAJ and NA).

AKC is also not completely crazy with tunnels like NADAC and the courses are not ridiculously tight like USDAA. The most runs in a day at this time you can have is 3 which means it can be a lighter weekend which may be better on Vegas' body. However, their trials often run 3 days so it's possible to have nearly the same number of runs as we would with CPE but stretched over 3 days as opposed to 2. Nonetheless, we're competing in AKC for breed recognition, because we like the people we're around, we like the courses, and because I want us to earn the prestigious Master Agility Champion title, MACH, an award just two Great Danes in history have earned. Those two Great Danes are Morgan and Mr. Bojangles.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Still limping...

Tonight was my planned walk with Vegas. It was a bit later which worked out to get us past the rain. Needless to say, Vegas was very excited to get out of the house and stretch her legs. I put on her gentle leader so I'd have a bit more control over her and make sure she didn't overdo it. We took off at what was a fairly brisk pace for me and I thought all was well. Her gait appeared pretty even. I even walked on both sides of her to watch from the left and the right. But a half dozen blocks ended up being our turnaround point as I could tell that she really was still limping when our pace was slow enough and she wasn't trying to charge ahead. So for now, I'm planning on continued kennel rest and am not even going to let her upstairs with me. I'd made that exception and walked her step by step but that could be just enough pressure to exacerbate the injury. For now things don't look good but. I'm not giving up on having her sound for the big Rose City Classic.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 4 - Getting Antsy

Day 4...we're starting to get antsy. Vegas has finally started to plow through a 24" rawhide she got for Christmas because she's bored and isn't allowed to do anything fun.

Today I went up to the AKC trial we were entered in and had to miss to visit with some friends, watch some runs, and get some pictures from one of the photographers. I didn't expect it to be so hard to be there without my girl. It's not difficult to be well-known when you run of of the very few dogs of this breed in agility, and everyone asked where my girl was. I know it's for the best though that she's home and the good news is she's not limping at all today! Sooo, I'm going to keep her "down" for a couple more days then try a long walk in the evening Tuesday and Wednesday and make sure she isn't limping after, and we'll hopefully get to go to our herding class next Saturday and do some agility practice at the barn Sunday. That's my tentative plan as long as I continue to see her sound on that leg.

Here she is enjoying her bone.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 2

So far so good - at least as far as Vegas being cooperative about the whole x-pen/no activity/restriction thing. She's still gimpy but it's early. I'm saying lots of prayers and still hoping we can heal quickly enough to compete at Rose City. She's crashed on her bed again next to me so that's nice. I kind of expected her to bug me constantly since she should be full of energy but she seems to have an understanding of what is going on. Or she hurts a lot worse than it seems. Hopefully it's not the latter....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Answer But Bad News

I ended up taking Vegas to the vet this evening. The vet couldn't feel anything off in the exam with us but asked me to leave her for an orthopedic exam. In manipulating her joint, she was able to hear crepitus so suggested doing an x-ray. When we came back and talked with the vet, she informed me they weren't able to get a good x-ray. Their goal had been to get one from the top with her other forelimb alongside for comparison. They also wanted a view from the side. Unfortunately Vegas can be stubborn and resistant and while she was good, her resistance didn't let them get the perfect views they wanted. So, basically all she could say was it looked like based upon what she was able to tell that there was some air around a bone on the right that wasn't on the left. I've found a picture online to show the area we're referring to.

It appears that the air she thinks she was seeing is around the carpal bone. The thing is, Vegas' feet weren't identically positioned so she isn't 100% certain, although I could see what she was seeing on the x-ray. I'm going to see if they'll email it to me (it's digital) and I can post it. You can also see a red thing I put up on the side of the bone higher up. She saw something like that, too, although because it was right by where the x-ray was cut off, there was no way to tell what it is.

At this point, the vet gave us two options. 1) Come back tomorrow for sedation and more x-rays; or 2) Rest her and use Rimadyl.

At this point and based upon my confidence in the vet tonight plus the cost for their quote tomorrow, here is Vegas' home while I decide what to do:

I'm going to make some phone calls tomorrow to vets that I know better and see what they think. I'm not satisfied with the non-answer they gave me and was really disappointed the vet seemed afraid of Vegas.

After talking with my son though, we may have determined that, if this is a soft tissue injury, she may have done it by running up the stairs. There are times she gets so gung-ho running up the stairs that a paw might fold under her on a stair tread. He said she did that this week and that would fit this limping and possible soft tissue injury to a tee. For now, I'm going to probably keep her confined like this, downstairs, with no exercise whatsoever and just potty breaks and meal times out (plus cuddles!) and see how she is by the end of the weekend. I probably won't give her the Rimadyl simply because I don't want it to mask the discomfort she's feeling.

So for now, I'm totally bummed we don't get to compete this weekend and really hoping that we can make it for the Rose City Classic in 2 weeks, but that is coming up really fast and I definitely cannot count on it. It's really not a great start to the new year.

Off to the vet we go

So to add insult to (literally) injury, Vegas got skunked this morning. She didn't just get skunked but she made us smell. I showed up at work and people immediately smelled it. My oldest son was sent home from school after repeatedly being called Skunk Boy and ridiculed (starting with his best friend!). Then my youngest son finished the school day but had similar experiences. Kids are SO mean!

And Vegas wasn't any better this morning so we have a vet appointment at 6pm tonight in hopes of figuring out what's going on. Need prayers for it to heal overnight! I want my baby girl to be okay!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hopefully it's nothing serious

So today is Wednesday and Vegas and I haven't gotten out and had time to do anything this week yet except rough house, tug, and zoomies. Tonight she was her usual bouncy self although she got sassy with the boys when she thought they were fighting. She played with her toys and sassed me. Then, around 6, we noticed she had started favoring her right front. After manipulating, palpating, and feeling for heat, I wasn't able to find anything. She didn't show any indication of distress but as the night wore on, she put less and less weight on it. I'm starting to get worried. We have an AKC trial this upcoming weekend, too, and I would hate for us to miss out on it. I hope it's nothing serious and maybe she just stepped wrong and stunned a nerve. Here's praying for 'all better' tomorrow!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snow Day & Keeping V in Shape

I'd started worrying lately, and getting a little frustrated that all the work Vegas had been doing (by my direction) to really get in great shape was going to waste and we'd have to start over. We've been out of agility classes for a while now and the weather had turned nasty again on top of going to work in the dark and getting home in the dark and having kid things to do and homework and then the holidays, we haven't gotten out and done much activity. After yesterday's powerhouse ride/run and today's snow day, I would have to say she's still got it and I just need to refocus our efforts despite the weather. Fortunately with the DVD set I got, we'll increase our odds of being able to do so. This will help me combat the weather because I am so not a rainy day fan and, add to that the dark after a long day of work, and it's going to take an army to get me out of the house.

That said, boy oh boy, I hope I'm not as sore tomorrow as I am afraid I'll be. It was my very first time ever on skis and I fell plenty! Vegas, being the incredible girl she is, was right there every time. She did a great job of not getting on my skis and only occasionally got in the way of me getting up or actually moving. We got up to the mountain around 9:30-9:45 or so but it took a while to get our skis out on the trail, get our gear on, get gear on the dogs, and then head out. By Lindsay's estimation, we did about 2 miles out and then made the return trip. She got some good pictures and I took a few as well. Vegas was a COMPLETE goofball. She has this funny habit of "making" her bed before lying down. I know it's somewhat normal for a dog to turn in circles, but she takes it to the extreme and spins 180s and really roughs up her bed, generally making it more of a pile and mess than could possibly be comfortable. So out on the trail when she wasn't romping through the woods and the deeper snow off to the side of the trail with Bess, she was "making her bed" in the snow. Only once did she sit down and another time, had I not gotten up (from another fall) when I did, she probably would have sat, at least, if not laid down. It was pretty darn funny and now she's completely crashed out, sleeping hard from her day on the mountain. She loves the snow and, in fact, I had to hear about it for the 12 miles or so we had to drive up the mountain where she could see snow outside. Well worth the drive and the damaged hearing to bring so much joy to my girl.

Thanks for inviting us, Lindsay!

I snagged this picture from Lindsay of Vegas sitting in her "snow bed."

This was her making her "snow bed."

Striking a pose.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Powerhouse Dane

Vegas and I were able to get out of the house today for a nice bike ride. Instead of going our usual route, I opted to take a bit longer outing and head west from our house to the middle school. After Googling it, I discovered the route is just 1.4 miles each direction. Once we got to the school we also rode around the track for an additional mile. 

Sometimes when I go out with Vegas, I can just tell she's not really up for a hard run. In this case I set my bike gears to where it's more of a challenge for me pedaling but where I can keep a steady pace that lets her stick with a trot. Today was not such a day. Vegas regularly amazes me with how much power and strength she has. She was a complete powerhouse today and wanted to full out run the entire way there. Her tongue was hanging out and she was frothing a bit on her lips and from her nose when we arrived at the school. But she wasn't done yet! After a quick potty break, I let her off the WalkyDog so she could run inside the track on the grass. Almost always when I do this, she runs alongside me anyway. Today I pushed her to run in the grass a bit and I could tell she was happy when she did. Her stride lengthened and she got that motion going where her front legs cross her back when she's all stretched out. She had a lot of fun. We took a quick break before heading home so I could let her breathing regulate and then we rerouted ourselves to home. 

I had just ordered a new supplement for her recently and it showed up last week. We've never tried it but I see a lot of people giving it to their dogs at agility trials. It's called Go Dog. I half filled the water bottle that came with it, about 10.5 ounces and mixed it up for her. I've never seen her drink something like that. She downed the entire amount and licked the bowl clean. And 3 short hours later she was up and acting like she wanted to go again. It might be hunger prompting her to get up and at em' as she's laying down again now after having been fed dinner, but usually if she's that tired she won't get up and follow me constantly. I'll have to monitor that and see if it really does help her performance and recovery wise. We're going up to the mountain tomorrow for my first time trying cross country skiing. My friend, Lindsay, is going to give me pointers and we'll have our girls along, Vegas and Bess. Our destination is Frog Lake and it'll be Vegas' and my first time on the mountain this season. I really hope that she gets good and worn out and I am able to keep up with all of them on skis! 

Friday, January 1, 2010

The BEST Way to Spend New Years Eve

Last night a group of agility friends got together for a little snacking and a lot of fun. There were two nested courses set up that, at walk through, seemed quite difficult. However, upon running the courses, I believe I have figured out the motive. They required control on the contact points and very specific and intentionally planned front crosses. They were great courses and I was SO proud of Vegas. She totally rocked and they were not courses with a lot of maneuver room. The strange thing is, we came home after just over two hours at the barn and Vegas still had energy! Too bad today was rainy and nasty and I had a bunch of stuff to catch up on or she could have done well with a bike ride. Perhaps tomorrow...

Happy 2010! We're now counting down to one week from tomorrow (Saturday, 1/9) for our next AKC trial. This one is hosted by Portland Agility Club. We are entered into 3 runs each day: FAST, Jumpers with Weaves (JWW), and Standard. If we get one JWW Q, Vegas will have her NAJ. As it stands right now, she has two JWW legs, and one Standard. By the end of the weekend she could have that leg, too.