Monday, January 31, 2011

Video from Snowshoeing

I got a chance this evening to compile the video snippets I took while we were on our snow adventure Saturday. It's best viewed smaller since it was taken on my digital versus video camera (still in for repair). The dogs clearly had a good time romping and goofing off.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snowshoeing at Clear Lake

Plans, as always, can be subject to change. I really hope to get up to Mirror Lake sometime, but it sounds like that may need to be in the off season. Instead we went to one of the places we've frequently gone, Clear Lake. I pulled in and the parking off the highway was blessedly empty. Unfortunately the snow was not fantastic, but we made do. The dogs were going berserk at that point. They realized something good was up and it was all I could do to get out and let Vegas out without her launching onto me from the back seat. That girl loves our adventures together!

Our arrival was right about 9:10 or so. It took me about 20 minutes to get Vegas geared up as well as my snowshoes on and pack situated. Then we were off! Fortunately the drizzle and mist we'd experienced on the drive up the mountain had stopped. I was not going to look forward to being rained on and we lucked out. Here is Vegas all outfitted like a Ruff Wear advertisement:
The trail we've usually taken goes straight, is reasonably easy, and heads down to the lake. For some reason - perhaps because the trail looked so much brighter and more inviting - I chose to head to the right yesterday. The dogs and I meandered for around a mile or so, enjoying the quiet (other than the crunch of my snowshoes), never seeing a soul. Vegas was romping around, goofing off, having a grand time.
Periodically we would stop to either catch our breath or just take in the silence. At one point I noticed the trickling sound of water. That took us on a short off road trip to a small stream running through the wood.
 Of course Vegas was interested in checking out the water but it took a few minutes for me to find the proper footing for her to get there and then she had lost interest. It was a pretty site, though, in the middle of the woods and a great spot to just enjoy the sound of nature. I also enjoy nature's water features and this was no exception. You can see in this last picture above how clear it was. While not deep, there was absolutely nothing to mar the clear water from surface to soil.

After the water detour, we kept on the same path. We came around a bend a short while later and I was facing a long upward slope. I kept wondering if this path would make its way to the lake or back around to the path we would have been on going straight. It took some time, but I finally caught a glimpse of the lake. At this point we were about five miles.
It was so pretty and so serene. We kept on trekking and I started to wonder if the route we were taking was a loop or what. In the meantime, I found a fallen log/stump and decided to play with my camera to see if I could use the timer feature to capture the dogs and me.
 Here's what I managed the first try.
 And in between that and me figuring out I had to set the timer with each shot....Miss Nosy had to check out what I was doing.
And lastly....not too bad.

Then we were off again. It wasn't too long before I started thinking about what choices I had to make. I knew I wasn't lost but I had to decide if I kept "exploring" or if I turned back the way we had come. A little while later and before I completely lost track of the lake, I decided we'd go off-roading again and follow the edge of the lake to the path I knew took us back to the highway and parking area.
You can see Vegas led the way and got to be the first tracks in the snow here. Interestingly enough, this snow was much nicer than what we had seen so far. It was more white (less debris fallen on it), it was softer and less crunchy, and it was a bit deeper. The stump cemetery area below is the edge of the lake and where we were headed. The terrain was okay down below but interspersed with damp, marshy ground with parts of the stream flowing through. It meant a bit of muck for Vegas' boots because I couldn't seem to convince her to jump over the small, mucky areas.
It's kind of interesting to note the difference in this year at the lake and the last time I was at the lake this time of year. In thinking back it might have been 2009 for this location, but it just so happened we walked across a significant portion of the lake before and that was most certainly not going to be the case yesterday. We made our way around the end of the lake, not quite as far as the trees you can see above on the left, but a good portion. There started to be less and less snow where I was walking and Leo was tuckering out, too. I got him situated in his front pack so that I didn't have to stop so frequently for him and so I could keep up the pace. I also had to take my snowshoes off at one point and after I did so and was getting my poles and shoes situated to carry, I realized Vegas had gone on "alert." It took me a minute or two to figure out what she was looking at. While I was busy removing my snowshoes, juggling Leo, and repacking myself to get back on the trail, she had noticed something very discreet going on down in the edge of the water. I had to sidestep 10 feet or so before I could even figure out what she had spotted. Down at the water's edge there was a few feet of ice then there was about three feet of water, and then the lake was iced/snowed over again. In the edge of the second section of ice was a hole around 14" in diameter.
 You can just barely see it. I still don't know what "it" was but you can see how curious Vegas was....
She ran all the way down to the lake without me. That girl never ventures so far but the thing in the water had her seriously intrigued. I couldn't get a feel for its size but it definitely was only popping its head up out of the hole in the ice. It did it a couple of times and Vegas made two runs down to the water's edge to watch and then return to me. Before I decided to give it up and keep on moving, I did look back the way we'd come and it had swum underwater some 30 yards or so back and then I did see a flipper or tail come out of the water as it played or whatever. It's going to bug me until I figure it out so I'll probably email the forest service or parks department to see if they have any idea.

We kept moving along the lake for a little while longer before I completely lost the snow and decided to head inland a bit. It wasn't but a few hundred feet before I found a campsite and followed the path from it down to the road campers would have come in on. At that point we were still seeing the lake as it wrapped around the area of land we were on and the snow finally got a little better again so I could put my shoes back on and stop carrying them. At this point we were around 7.0 miles and I was resigned to carrying Leo the rest of the way. Before too long we did make it out to one of the main paths and I quickly realized it was in the vicinity of our creek sojourn earlier. With an internal whoop and some verbal encouragement to Vegas, we kept on going. At this point I can admit, we were tired. Unfortunately it was a good mile back to the branch we had turned off from and another mile back to the truck. I've rarely been so glad to see my truck and the end of something, and not to say we didn't have fun, but it was quite a long journey. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the trip, got some much needed solitude, and so glorious pictures and memories, too.

We had drill team later that night, too, but I'll go over that tomorrow night. It's a work day and I am off to sleep.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Yay for the weekend! All of our stuff is ready to go. Now we just need to sleep and have morning arrive. After debating on where to go, my plan is to head up to Mirror Lake. I want to try something new. The weather is supposed to cooperate - fortunately - and this trip is just what I need. I know Vegas will agree once we arrive. She LOVES romping in the snow.

We've got all our gear stacked up downstairs ready to go. Vegas will be a regular Ruff Wear advertisement for snow fun tomorrow with her Cloud Chaser jacket, Bark'n Boots, and Liners. As soon as I got things out she immediately knew something was up and I could barely trek back and forth between the laundry room where some of her stuff was and out in the dining room where I was putting things for tomorrow. We'll be up and at em early as I plan on dropping the kiddos off at their grandma's around 7 am. That way I can hit the ski shop when they open to rent my shoes. I'm so excited! This is one of those things I wish I could go do weekly or so during the snow season. The dogs just love getting out in the outdoors and it's excellent exercise, wonderful for the mind and soul, and awesome to breathe fresh mountain air. I hope to have a ton of pictures as I'll for sure be lugging the camera along.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Speed Analysis

So I have been tracking Vegas' AKC agility results in quite a lot of detail for almost as long as we've been trialing with AKC, but I wanted to look at our numbers in another format. For each run I usually have the following pieces of information:

  • Date
  • Show (AKA: the hosting club)
  • Location
  • Class/Level
  • Judge
  • Dog's Time
  • Yardage
  • SCT
  • YPS
  • Surface
  • Weather Conditions (and whether we're indoors or out)
  • Comments
I use the record book put out by Clean Run and have always tracked when we earned our titles as well as more recently our MACH points and QQs. I hadn't put a lot of thought into our YPS until more recently and I've started paying attention to how Vegas runs and what affects her. For instance, what factors affect her performance? Some of those could be: surface, temperature, weather, travel distance, trial location, humidity, and even whether we've had enough rest. To assimilate the information, I took her record book and entered some of the key pieces into Excel. Here is what I came up with. 
The yellow highlight represents her fastest YPS - all over 4 and all in JWW. What I didn't learn from this - yet - is whether weather has anything to do with her runs or not. Most of what I did jot down includes cool and cold temperatures but some of them I was not good about entering that information. One was mid-80s though and her YPS was 4.13. You can see, too, surface doesn't seem to matter at all either. She pretty much ran on it all. The only thing I can tell is that she doesn't run quit as quickly on rubber matting. 

I guess my goal in all of this is to find the ideal conditions and either do what I can to replicate it, or work to make sure she's in as top form as she can be to combat any negative conditions. That's not to say she doesn't already stay conditioned, isn't already warmed up properly, that she will or won't get stretched well in one setup or another, I was just hoping to figure out a theme. I've really started to recognize that every single run - heck, ever single jump - counts with my big girl. I don't want to be one of those Dane handlers running her like crazy at 8, 9, or 10 years old. I want to save her golden years and make sure she's as spry as she can be during those times. We're not practicing at all really any more. She and I have really been fortunate to synchronize our teamwork, to come together and just "get it" in recent months and I just don't feel it's of value for us to do any more than we have to. That's not to say that we won't work things from time to time or as it appears necessary, but I just don't feel going and working her on agility weekly like I had been is something I want to do to her body. There are plenty of other activities for us to do to stimulate body and mind and I'll save the strain on her body for competition. I guess I'll continue tracking in my book and also on my spreadsheet and see if any patterns start to appear after some more time. For now it's just my ruminations, contemplations, and overactive worry center that keeps me focusing on these things and hoping to maximize our time running together. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rose City Classic 2011 - Sunday

Whew! What a weekend. I still have a very tired Great Dane. But what a day yesterday was. Leo and Vegas pulled off two amazing days of not only performance but an abundance of very effective PR for their respective breeds. AND, Vegas helped me to meet someone who lives in Battleground, WA that I "met" on Facebook. She has a gorgeous Dane, Beau, and came to the Rose City Classic with her daughter. The dogs and I were done for the day and settling down to watch the IFC competition and she recognized my pretty girl and came over to introduce herself. It was really cool and I can't wait to get to know her better and get the dogs together.

We didn't have to arrive as early Sunday as we had Saturday and we didn't have to unload anything. I just hauled along my usual agility duffel with treats and our Go Dog mix and extra collars etc. I alternately walked around with and without the dogs, watched the Danes in the ring including our friend Lindsay and her bitch, Bess, and waited until our first event. Just like the previous day, agility and rally collided even with all that time to wait. Leo ended up running first and I then headed straight for the agility ring to walk my course. Fortunately the courses were really nice this weekend and mostly built to accommodate all sizes of dogs as well as running on the matted surface. I had just enough time to run through the course twice and analyze a couple of points.
I'm really starting to like tunnel starts - and they were particularly beneficial in this environment. Without the wide open space and the speed launching over jumps, the tunnel worked great to gain focus for Vegas and I. Here I walked the course with a rear cross on the dog walk figuring I had plenty of time to front cross at the end to the weaves but I had originally felt like trying to fit in a front cross before the dog walk might cause me to lose her over an off course jump. I ended up getting the front cross in before the dog walk and remember distinctly looking right at her and keeping her in my sight at all moments to bring her toward me with the cross and drawing her off the off course possibilities. The weaves were slightly farther away from the crowd Sunday but I knew I would still have to work them carefully. From there to the teeter, I wanted to push out hard enough to the jump but still pull back to the a-frame. Rearing on the a-frame works well as I can almost always count on her to pause at the apex and look at me. I almost didn't make it and had a moment of panic that she'd miss her contact. No worries. She came down through it not only with a both front paws touching the yellow but a back foot, too. Good girl, Vegas! From there it was off to the table. From there we moved into the serp. I front crossed after the first jump to draw her off the tire and she moved well through the serpentine and the rest was almost a cake walk. I was so proud of my girl. She was moving so well and it was such a better run than the previous day's non-run standard. Her time was 55.18; SCT was 66. Our fourth MX leg and 10 MACH points. Not too shabby for such a rush-rush stressful period. Fortunately being with me is all Vegas cares about and when she's with me life is kosher and happy.

Here are a few of the pictures I had taken at the breed ring earlier:

 I got a kick out of this cute little Harl bitch. She was very pretty and sweet looking.
And this brindle girl is now Mia, once known as Violet, all grown up. She was being handled by Georgia of Daynakin Great Danes.

Alright, so our final "act" of the day was JWW. Our course is below:
Fortunately the weaves were in the middle of the ring this time around, helping to avoid the crowd too close issue that had occurred in some of the runs and was causing dogs so much distraction. We started with a tunnel again. Did I mention I was growing fond of that start? From there the trickiest part was not sending the dog too far and taking #15 versus #3. I had thought perhaps the tunnel would be a draw coming around from the #4 but the #5 jump was angled enough the tunnel was a non-issue. The next little stretch meant I had to really move and my plan was to move in after #7 in a semi-rear cross to push to the tunnel since I don't have a turn command and the last thing I wanted was a refusal. I ended up on the outer side of #8 and coming across the tunnel. As I was telling Rachel, one huge thing I learned from Craig French was how important it was to keep the dog's head out of the tunnel into the weaves. There is enough of a stretch there that they can easily get distracted. All it takes is picking the head up and looking around to possibly stride just beyond the ability to enter cleanly. I kept her head and her weaves were rock solid. I had decided to stick with the right side of the weaves, too, as it seemed awkward to move into a rear cross through the next sequence of jumps. Plus, the exit side of the weaves put her facing the jump following. It worked well. I planned a front cross after #13 and that worked well; I was able to accomplish this and give her plenty of space at the same time. Next up was a wide 180 without pushing too far and coming over the #3. No problem. Then, to flip her out at the #17 or wrap her in? I walked it both ways and even crouched down over the jump and walked as if I was Vegas to see what was most natural. I decided it was more natural to turn out toward the side of the ring. To accomplish this I was closer than I thought to accomplish this but it worked well to give her space and seemed to be the most natural for Vegas' size. She finished the course in 40.52; SCT was 45.

It was a pretty exciting thing to get a double Q at Rose City. I know I'm fortunate in that my girl has a fantastic work ethic and can really dig in and work with me through it all. I'm chalking our botched Saturday Standard run to my stress and also adjusting to the surface. A pretty fabulous weekend hanging out with great friends, watching some awesome dogs in a multitude of activities, doing PR for our breed, showing off my dogs, being able to see them in action and still be amazed by their tenacity and temperament, and some major successes too. Vegas is now at 88 MACH points and three double Qs.

Here's a pic I shot of the two dogs shortly before we left.
The two slept like the dead when we got home and Vegas is still pretty wiped out tonight although she was at least perky today before and after work. That kind of mental and physical environment can really wear on them but I don't think any of us would have it any other way. And so goes the end of Rose City 2011. Until next year. Another year and another show. I can't wait to see where we're at then.

For a quick look back at Vegas' progress since last Rose City, click here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rose City Classic 2011 - Saturday

The Rose City Classic Dog Show is not just another agility trial. It's not even as simple as entering the only agility trial we ever get to run indoors on rubber mats. It's not even just a trial with more spectators than usual. The Rose City Classic is one of the largest dog shows held in the United States every year. It's a five day dog show with specialties held on Wednesday and all breed shows Thursday through Saturday. In addition to conformation, there are all classes of obedience, rally obedience, and agility. Plus, this year they also had an exhibition option for rally pairs and rally teams. They offer Meet the Breeds Saturday and the agility competition includes an IFC competition after the regular classes. People come from all over for this show including vendors, handlers, and dogs of every size, shape, color, and type you can imagine. And it is chaos personified.

We are entered only Saturday and Sunday as I was unable to take any days off work. Today was our first day and I feel like it was the last of a four day trial. I had Leo entered in rally novice B, Vegas in S'tandard and JWW, plus Vegas in rally novice team. I knew going into it I was going to be juggling rings. Fortunately the obedience rings were in the same hall as agility and we were able to crate conveniently to both. However, when your day starts at 5:30 to leave the house at 6:15 after having fed two dogs, loaded the truck, and driven for 30 plus minutes only to hurry up, park in a loading zone, unload (three trips), then bring dogs in and set up, and then wait for two hours to do anything and find out your runs are going to collide, yikes can that make for an interesting and 'on your toes' kinda day. Fortunately the trial secretaries were totally cool and understanding about conflicts.

Rally novice was scheduled to start at 10:50 am. Unfortunately Excellent Standard was running 16, 4, 8, 12, 20, 24-26, and that put us right about at the same time in both places. No good. So the plan was to move me to the beginning of the 20s, to walk with the 20s, then I'd be out of the way. No biggie, right?

So the time nears and I get Vegas warmed up. It's actually about 10:20 and they're looking for ring crew for our ring. Another 10 minutes go by and we're finally ready. They've set everything at 24" for us and we go in the ring. The course looked totally doable. It was smooth. The flow was good. The toughest part honestly looked like the entrance to the tunnel after the table > jump sequence.
So, here we go. Vegas takes the #1 jump followed by #2 then almost swings too wide for #3. What??!!!? I keep her on track but know that at the #4 I have to rear cross and book it to "push" her to #5. Well, she wasn't having any pushing and almost immediately turned back toward me because after the #3 debacle I wasn't in position like I expected. She takes #5 after I correct her - the run is already toast at that point with a refusal - and now she decides to take the "push" queue -- straight over #19!!!!!!!!!! Gargh. I tried to go for the a-frame but at that point she was then at another refusal and we were clearly out of sync. Thanks to the judge, buh-bye. Yeah. It sucked. Not a good way to start the day.

I took her out of the ring, went and stood by the door for a minute with her in a sit stay, told her bad girl - sorry but it was true - and then went outside with her to um, take some cleansing breaths of cold Oregon air, mentally regroup.

Then it was back inside to crate Vegas and get Leo out. I took him out to potty then waited. And waited. And waited for our class to come up. I think things were running a little late but in the meantime I visited and worked with Leo quite a bit on some of his exercises plus enjoyed watching our friend Nancy compete in obedience with her delightful Doberman, Jupiter, who did an absolutely beautiful job of it.

Then it was time to walk the course for him, run him, and then wait for results. I watched a few more, chatted with our friend Leigh, chatted with some people about Poms, and then waited some more to go back in for awards at the end of the class. As I was standing with Leo waiting to go back in the ring, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. "Attention competitors. There is a black Great Dane in distress in a crate between the agility and obedience rings." O.M.G. Yep, guess who? Of course I know my girl. I look over toward our crating area which I could see from the rally ring. I notice my friend, Rachel, is there and I don't see her looking around for me or anything. Then I see Vegas out of her crate and Rachel doing something - hard to tell through the crowd - then don't see Vegas any more. I'm like, "Okay, well whatever." Once we had gone back into the ring for Leo and I could head back over to Vegas, I got a chance to find out what was up. Well, basically Rachel fended off a bunch of people (including Dane people who, after assured Vegas was fine, empathized with what had happened) asking after Vegas. She was fine. FINE. A-o-KAY. Sheesh. Non-dog people. Sorry, but wow. Somebody reported her as "distressed" when, in fact, she was throwing a Great Dane hissy fit in her crate. I'll repeat myself. O.M.G. Oh yeah, and hahahahaha. I can laugh about it now although I feel like I should bring a sign tomorrow or something. Sheesh. Okay, so my girl has a teensy weensy bit of separation anxiety. But in distress? A Dane in distress is lying on its side not moving or bloated. But she was clearly just pissing and moaning and looking for sympathy in abundance with her out and out temper tantrum. Thank God for Rachel. She totally knows my girl, totally knew things were fine, and just dealt with her for me and, bless her heart, dealt with the people too. For that alone the girl deserves huge pats on the back. Anyway, made for another interesting aspect of this year's Rose City. Interestingly enough, had this occurred at an agility trial only everyone would have known and ignored it. People are just used to her antics by now and it's certainly better than some of the wretched beasts that lunge through their crates at other dogs walking by at trials.

So, drama aside, Vegas rescued by having her mama back and being able to come out of the crate, we now had to check in with JWW and see where things were at. Of course it was time to walk so back in the crate she went. This time, though, I put an extra blanket over her crate so she couldn't see out and voila! she was quiet. It's magic! :-)

Walked our JWW course, puzzled over how to handle one area, chatted about it with Rachel, and decided to go with my gut, and went and got Vegas again. I had checked the run order and it looked like we were fourth up. Well, ooops. I forgot they had 26" dogs to run first so out to potty she went and then we went in and warmed up. Finally it was our turn. Did I just walk, cause I swear I had forgotten the course. Not a good thing. Oh well, I figured I would figure it out. If I had video you could tell where I "got lost" but thank God it didn't cost us anything. I caught myself just in time. It happened right at the #4 jump where I forgot to make a front cross right away to send Vegas to the #5 jump and almost letting her get away from me with an off course. The rest of the course is mostly a blur except to note how difficult this venue can be. I mentioned crowds of people. By now we were early afternoon and scads of people had shown up. In fact, it would seem most of the crowds had truly discovered where the action was and, no offense, but it certainly wasn't in the breed rings.

The location of the weave poles was exactly parallel to the little white picket fencing they use to create the rings for agility. The picket fencing is all that separates the dogs in the ring from the throngs of people outside the ring. Not only that, but there is a row of spectator chairs about 18 inches from the picket fence. Behind the filled seats are about five-six rows deep of people watching. Most of me doesn't mind the people. In fact I find it fan-frickin-tabulous that attendees want to watch the agility. However, having people laugh at the dogs (cause they're weaving????), and being so close is seriously not so cool. I had to work those weaves every millisecond to make sure my girlie didn't put her head up. I could honestly say I felt every second of those weaves and every single breath she and I took was not wasted as we worked together to finish them. If Vegas had NQd this run after those weaves or for any other reason, she seriously would have deserved a party because that was very difficult. The rest is a bit negligible as I don't really remember it and she did qualify. As I let out a whoop at the end and loved on my girl, the crowd applauded and I just showered her with praise. She was fantastic. I was so proud of her. Our time was 40.95; SCT was 41. Whew! Never made it that close before.
So anyway, party and treat time over, we just enjoyed some hang out time again together. Got Leo out and took him potty and then met up with Andrea and got our course map for our Rally Novice Team run. I didn't really know about this rally team thing until two or three weeks ago. Someone sent out an email on a Yahoo group asking for team members, I replied out of curiosity, then ended up contacting Lindsay to see if she'd be interested. That sprouted into Andrea asking Lindsay and I if we would be interested and then we were looking for one more team member to make four. Still, we barely knew what it was. Turns out it's a rally course we each run but we just go one after the other without the judge queuing team members two through four to go. In the end we had a cumulative score and received a ribbon, although the entire exercise is for exhibition only.  Our team ended up being Andrea with her Bullmastiff, Brody; Lindsay with her Dane, Bess, and our friend, Erin, with her Siberian Husky, Boomer. Another last minute "thing" was to coordinate our outfits. We ended up agreeing on black shirts and then Andrea picked up some red bandanas for the dogs to wear around their necks. They were all really cute! It was funny to see Vegas and Bess with theirs tied around their necks, Brody's almost too tight, and Boomer's buried in his coat. Here is what our course looked like:
It was a really nice course! Turns out the way things were to run is to have us go in numeric order. That meant I was up first. The second dog and handler team were to come in when the previous one got to station #10. As soon as the team passed the finish sign the next team could get started. Vegas was actually doing quite well and I've learned a few tricks from watching Lindsay and others to know what I was doing wrong in some areas. For one, making left turns or even sitting, my queues needed to be much sooner. When I was queuing late it meant she got ahead of me and we ran into each other. So, that absorbed in my very dense brain (when it comes to obedience training), we did much better! I think Vegas was very tired and perhaps that helped us a bit? I don't know but other than her looky-looing around station #3 and toward the spectators seated outside the ring (At least this ring also had a blue half curtain between the picket fence and the crowd.), a bit of sniffing toward one other cone later on, and a crooked sit for the sit/walk around, she was a complete rockstar. In fact, she was better than she was in her four previous qualifying rally legs. I was very happy with my girl.

Next up was Lindsay, then Andrea, and finally Erin with Boomer. We all did good considering the chaos of all of us juggling other entries today, and while we placed fourth out of four groups, we did get a nice rosette and the judge commented that this is his favorite class to judge.

And that made for a very full day. I wanted to wander a bit a shop a bit and watch some of the IFC classes but that didn't last long. I didn't have a brain left, probably due to not taking care of me today, and had tired dogs, too. We did so much PR for our breeds today and I couldn't be more pleased of my dogs or proud to get to be their Mama. I'm feeling like a damn lucky dog mom right now. And this is how things were spent until we came upstairs to bed where I have one happily, snoozing Dane resting next to me and one hot and sleepy Pomeranian at the foot of the bed. Goodnight all.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

NW Agility League

I'm super late in getting this on here, but another agility thing Vegas and I participated in last year was the NW Agility League, hosted by Columbia Agility Team. This is a team event held for 7 weeks during the late fall with a games course and standard course each week. Volunteers design the courses and teams are formed by draw (for at least two members of each team). Teams are four people total and participants can also choose to run FEO. I volunteered myself (like a glutton for punishment) this year to be site leader which meant organizing the paperwork, adding up scores, sending them out to the teams as well as the scorekeeper, and more. All in all, while the concept of league is fun, it turns out to be a lot of work even when you don't volunteer to be site leader. After all, the things that make a trial happen have to happen here, too. The courses must be built, the bars must be set, chute fluffed, score kept, runs timed, and everything judged. But, now we've tried it two years running and at least there were moments.

Week 1
Vegas earned a score of 94 on Standard and 77 on Steeplechase.

Week 2
This week's scores were 95 for Standard and 84 for Snooker Made Easy.

Week 3
Poor Vegas eliminated us on the Standard run this week since she had to go potty. As I learned in a later week, my sons were not always making her go outside to potty after school. Vegas has a strict no nasty weather policy and sometimes would prefer to hold it if you let her than to go out in the weather. The kids don't push it and, well, we paid for it here. Oh well. Lucky Thirteen was interesting as you were to make up your own course but get exactly thirteen obstacles. Our score on this game was 84; I think we managed to get through 11 or 12 before time.

Week 4
This week we had a 75 on Standard and a 57 on the Non-Traditional Gamble. I think we had an off course and/or a knocked bar plus time on Standard.

Week 5
Our scores this week were 75 and 101 and, I must say, this was one of most enjoyable games courses of the entire session. There was definitely some finesse required but it was doable for a Dane!

Week 6
Oh, elimination for elimination, how I detest thee. Okay, but really I disliked my sons not putting Vegas out. Poor girl was having troubles in the weaves and I didn't catch that it was discomfort. Sent her through again and she made them the second time and as we went for the teeter in Standard, she just had to go. Our Almost Fast course was good. I thought we had it but the "judge" called us a fault on the send as I stepped into the box as Vegas exited the tunnel. It was one of those things that, for a fun activity, I don't think it was worth calling - especially considering all the other lackadaisical calls we made, but cest la vie. So our score was only 76.

Week 7
Week 7 was probably Vegas' and my best week of the entire league. We had a score of 100 in Standard and our games course turned out way better than I could have hoped. The box in the center represented the potential to earn double the points numbered on any obstacle if our dog completed them while we were in the box. Basically a giant send game. Vegas ended up working with me really well and I was in the box on 3, 4, 5, 6, and she started 7 which I was really proud of. I did have to leave the box for 7 but was able to stay in it for the rest of the numbered obstacles until #15. Even the weaves on the second time through! We had a great score of 195 and it felt good to see her run so well.

Our team ended up placing in the top 15 for league so we were given a mug. The jury is still out on whether I'll give it a go again this fall, but for $26 it's one of those things that can definitely be worth it to work on areas and issues a team may have.