Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fleet Feet CPE Agility, March 24-25

Wow, CPE agility just doesn't look the same at all after having done AKC for so long. I just have to get that out there right away. I have always been a staunch believer in CPE, and I still am, but just don't think it's fun any more for Vegas and I. We're close enough to our C-ATCH that we'll go ahead and finish it out, but beyond that... Let's just say I prefer having a numbered course at all times plus having the total number of tunnels on course limited is an extra advantage. I don't know. I guess with CPE it just seems too difficult of a battle for time for V and it's not like she's slow. That's a bit demotivating to me, too. So that's that. Just wasn't the "funnest" agility weekend last and I'm glad this weekend is AKC again. :-)

So they run four classes a day down there at all five (+) levels and Vegas was entered in two Saturday and three Sunday.

Saturday she didn't run until midday/early afternoon. It was a while. And quite a bit of (unhappy) crate time.
This was a tough one. Meaning tough decisions. I actually made a comment that I wished my friend, Rachel, was there to plot a course. Or maybe that was Sunday for Jackpot. Regardless, falls into an example for my comments above. So anyway, my plan ended up being to take the red on the right (just above the right-side "s"), 6A, then 6B. Then 6A as a red, 5B, 5A, red in the middle, then the 5s again. That worked just fine. Then, after taking 5A, we ran down past the tunnels and over #2, wrapped the jump and into the tunnel. It's not as obvious on the map but 5A, B, and 6A were mostly a serpentine and needed to be handled that way. Some how I dropped the ball though, and she took the wrong side of 5B and we got whistled. BUMMER!  That didn't leave us with enough points so no Q. We still need a single Snooker leg for C-ATCH requirements. Hopefully in April.
Other than three damned tunnels....

My plan here was to angle her to the #1 jump so she saw the tunnel, blind cross the tunnel exit for #3 (handling from the left for 3-5), rear cross 7 (I think....?), rear or blind at 15/16 and head for "home."
SCT: 36
Yards: 135
Our time was 32.14 and 0 faults. That was our final needed Jumpers leg for Level 5.
Sunday Vegas was entered in all but Standard. First up - the dreaded Jackpot. And unfortunately I didn't sleep well at all and was grumpy as all hell. I actually considered packing up and scratching our runs. I was just out of sorts. That said, I did map a course as best I could (Rachel! Needed you!) and went with it.

The course...
My mapped plan:
You see, there were three jackpot choices. I wanted to avoid tunnels if I could, other than the first, and do one as much in flow as possible. wasn't to be. Vegas was feeling a little rummy maybe, too? I know I wasn't acting off but dogs are perceptive so who knows. Regardless, she wasn't listening or tuned into me. So we took the jump, tunnel, double, then she missed her weave entry? On a set of 6? Fixed that, took the next mapped jump, then the following, but she decided to dive into the tunnel? I was lightyears away from the tunnel but it sucked her into its vortex like some crazy (novice) dog. that point, I knew it was over and I, quite frankly, was pissy. So I decided to "call it" and we left the course. NQ. Crap. Cause we need five of those damned buggers. *sigh*

We didn't run Standard. I included it for the sake of emphasizing another reason why I'm none too fond of CPE any longer for V and I. Reasons: 1) Three tunnels. Okay, this is actually a good number for CPE. I'm used to seeing 4 and 5. 2) Look at the weave entry. Seriously? Who does that? Almost nobody did it prettily. It was awkward and un-fun. This isn't a criticism of the judge designing, by the way. It must be a venue thing cause many of the venue courses have wonky crap like that making the courses demotivating and un-fun. 3) Look at those weaves! Six poles. Yes, you have to do them twice, but 6 poles for high level dogs? 12 poles. 12 poles for experienced dogs. But again, just something that's okay/acceptable in CPE's rules. 4) 12 to 13. Looks like a fairly straight shot, right? Not in actuality. This was really hard for dogs! Their handlers couldn't get in good position no matter what they did because of the weave angle and entry (not to mention the up end of the teeter sticking out there). All I can say is, thank goodness there are no refusals. 5) Along the lines of the weave entry.... It doesn't seem like a big deal perhaps to angle the last jump from the one prior. However, look at the line. It's a fast line from 18 to 19, dogs are accelerating and looking straight at the tunnel. And where are the handlers? No way to easily get where they can tell their dog where to go. Umpteen dogs took the wrong end of the #13 tunnel versus the last jump.
CPE is just getting frustrating to me. The challenges presented aren't always logical to handling dogs in a safe manner. They seem to involve a lot of yanking and pulling on the dogs and that can be hard on some. There are dogs that can handle it. For my big girl, it's not my preferred way of running her and taking care of her in the sport we love. It's not a criticism of the venue overall in any way other than that it's not as right for us any longer as it once was. One of the glories of living and learning, I suppose. As a disclaimer, too, I did enjoy running Leo. A 4" jumping dog that has lots of room for maneuvering/handling is a far cry from 120" pounds jumping 20". There. Done.

Oh, and fortunately we don't need any more standard legs. Whew, V!

We needed just one Wildcard leg for Level 5, too. So here we needed two Bs and an A. I chose 3B, 9B, and 11A. No way of getting around all the damned tunnels. Three of them no matter what; a fourth if we had done our A for 9. We had 39 seconds to complete this 107 yard course. We did so in 31.47 for our required Q and a first place. Yea, V!
Colors, surprisingly, we need all five Level 5 legs. Of course I looked for the path of least tunnels...they both had the same number. So that "option" eliminated, which one flowed the best. Well, I really didn't like the circles one as it was just at 3, 4, 5. So I chose squares. My plan was to give her a good signal for the a-frame (to avoid the tunnel discrimination) and even a little RFP action. From the #5 tunnel I was able to move out a bit and cross in front of the #7 tunnel to send her in. I got a blind cross in between 9 and 10 and we were pretty much home free.

SCT: 35
Yards: 96
Our time was a smoking 26.23 (YES - even with three tunnels!), another first place, and our first of the five legs.
So all in all, three more legs necessary for her C-ATCH out of five runs. The other thing I discovered is that while doing the right thing for her body and reducing the number of runs because of both the number of tunnels and the herky-jerkyness of the courses, it's hard to have her in her kennel so much between working and running Leo. She was stressed, not understanding why she was just hanging out, and it hindered our working on the first runs a bit.

At this point, we have the following to complete for C-ATCH:

Five Jackpot legs
Four Colors legs
1 Snooker leg

Not too shabby except that it's possibly five trials just to complete the Jackpots assuming we qualify in each one we get entered in. So our C-ATCH could be a while off. But it's doable and very close. Love this girl. She is so amazing.
Silly girl was supposed to be posing with her ribbons but didn't want to let go of her tug. Of course then we had a rousing game and she was thoroughly pleased with herself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PAC/GSDCO AKC Agility - March 17-18

Wow am I behind - AGAIN! This post will cover the AKC trial from St. Patrick's weekend. The trial was jointly hosted by the Portland Agility Club (of which I'm a new member!) and the German Shepherd Dog Club of Oregon. Gotta stop right here and say - these two clubs put on some of the best trials in our areas. They keep their entries lower than many of the clubs, they run things well, have great hospitality and ribbons, plus those running things manage to be pleasant when asking for help. So thanks to PAC and GSDCO for a fun trial!

This trial was held at our normal stomping grounds, the Clark County Fairgrounds, in the horse arena. Each day first dog on the line wasn't until 9 am but, of course, on Saturday I always show up before the crack of dawn (almost literally) in order to make sure I have crating space. You just never know what to count on despite all the room there and I also don't want to crate where the pigeons nest and mess the most! So we arrived about 7:15 am - whew! At least the lights were on and we were able to get all set up and settled well before the show got started.

As per normal, we had Standard first and JWW second. At this point I don't recall the run order of the days but it doesn't much matter I suppose. Without further ado, here's the courses and my summary/results:

So here we have a tunnel start so of course I began with a good run in...somewhere right along the plane of jump 3. My goal then was to book it out toward #7 so she would see me first as she came out of the tunnel. At first I considered just moving laterally from the tunnel to the landing side of #2, but then I figured she might take the jump at too much of an angle and possibly knock the bar or certainly then start things off rough going forward with moving at poor angles. So that worked well - although she shot through the tunnel like a mad dog! The angle to the dog walk wasn't great, but it was shape-able. From there I liked the run into the tunnel - the speed she could get plus the fact that tunnels were now done and over with. Over #7 (after fretting over the down contact on the a-frame), I know dogs were likely to catch site of the tunnel. My plan was to stay on the inside and not front cross until the table. Worked well. The next most difficult part and one a LOT of dogs had trouble with was the sharp and rather abrupt turn to the chute after #12. That, of course, was our Achilles heel, although not for the typical reason.
I had planned to blind cross into the chute. Vegas' idiot handler did something else so nobody to blame but myself. At that point with a knocked bar I let myself fall into "Oh crapdom" until the weaves. It was the first time Vegas has missed a weave entry in almost 18 months. Talk about a slap in the face to come back to reality. The game was on again - my head went back into it anyway - and I drove her to finish the course like I normally would. I really hate when I let disappointment get me and interrupt my handling. It really isn't fair to V - she was just doing what I said, nothing more. Thankfully I wasn't upset with her, just upset at the loss of the Q and points. But the end result either way? She had fun so I'm glad I could get back in the game with her.

SCT: 67
Yardage: 180
There were 9 Qs. Our time was 54.34 which would have put us between the 8th and 9th qualifers.

Next up, JWW. This was a difficult course to walk even divided into just 24s and 26s. Check out the jump that got used three times! One through four was fairly straight forward. Then it was a matter of leading out to #5 while she was in the tunnel. I planned to shape the turn to #7 by pushing out and making the curve into #6. I had hopes of making a cross of some sort in there but wasn't sure how it would work out. If all else failed I figured on a front cross after #8 or a rear after #9. In the end, I believe I was able to get a front in after #7 and a blind in between 9 and 10. Something funny happened for the pinwheel 13-16...not sure if it shows up on the video. Walking it I was hoping to afix myself somewhere central and hope she would extend out to the jumps. But instead I sort of got caught up in turning and my turns got large until I was almost in the middle of #16 before I realized it and moved back in.
Without sounding too self-confident or conceited or anything, I knew Vegas would pull it off. Usually if we bum out on Standard we get JWW; not sure why that happens. She's just a JWW queen, I guess. :-)
SCT: 44
Yardage: 155
Our time was 38.07 We were 8th out of 12 qualifiers (Yay!) earning five more points. Go, V! 
The opening was the trickiest part of this course. We had to get our dogs into the off side of the tunnel without them taking the dog walk. The dog walk was at least as close as it looks in the map - truly next to nothing for a long-strided big dog. This was one of those rare times I wish I had a lead out. But I don't... My plan was to start Vegas out way over on the left side (although still straight) at #1. Then I needed to book it out in front of #2 and send her into the right end of the tunnel with my right arm (handling from the left). Watch the video for what I never considered! Four through eight were fairly straight-forward although there was a little concern if the dogs took #7 too deep that they'd go for the a-frame. Most dogs were okay. From #9 coming out of the tunnel it was a fairly straight line over 10 and to the teeter. The rest was fairly well and good. My conundrum was how to handle the a-frame (#14) to the panel. Did I front cross at the end of the frame or did I rear cross the panel? I went with rear. Vegas seems to miss the contact more often if I try to cross in front of her on the frame. Something about crowding. 

Yay VV! SCT of 68; 183 yards. Our time: 53.36 - 14 points! 14 dogs qualified; we were 14th. Very pleased with this run. Vegas handled it very well - and happily. She's getting so consistent on her a-frame, although I won't ever let up, and while it crossed my mind that the panel was on a turn, she handled it just fine too. Guess our panel issues were just a passing thing at Rose City. 

Okay, another two tunneler (bummer!).... My plan was to blind cross between 7 and 8 but first I had to be sure I drew her straight/toward me between 5 and 6. Lots of dogs were taking 16 as an off course between the two. The straight stretch between those jumps confused them, I guess. I planned a rear cross at the tunnel, a blind between 14 and 15, and that was it to the end. 
SCT: 42
Yards: 150
Our time was 36.03. We were 11th out of 12 qualifiers and earned another five MACH points.

Weekend Count: Three Qs. Two JWW legs, one Standard. 24 points.
MACH Totals: 577 points, 23 QQs

Sunday, March 11, 2012

MCDF February 2012 Trial

So since we've gone over the sickness for the weekend, I can quickly cover the agility portion of the weekend.

Standard first, JWW last, opposite rings. 24/26 inch dogs ran third in the line-up. Our judges for the weekend were two we had never under before, Howard Etzel and Carla Boudrot.
With a tunnel start I always give Vegas a nice run into it. I started her out back where it says IN on the map. I sent her in with a nice rev-up and I moved laterally toward the dog walk, calling and pulling her toward me over the #2 jump. From the table my plan was to basically front cross and send her into the tunnel from the left and head out to the weaves. After the weaves we had the 360 and I knew it would be important to call her in and pull in via my shoulders and motion to complete the second half. Then we needed to make the drive to the teeter. From there the challenge was the panel jump with a sharp pull back to the a-frame. A lot! of dogs took the #19 from the wrong direction. A lot of people were making a front cross before the a-frame, others afterward. I was going to do something different. Basically stay to the right, run up and around the down contact, and drop my left shoulder while moving past it so Vegas came inside me on my left. From there I just needed to make sure she didn't take the a-frame again after #17 and we were good.
Unfortunately we dropped jump #14. SCT was 69 for 186 yards. Our time was 53.87. It would have been 15 points. A great run. In looking over the video it seems she was just off stride and that's what happened to #14. 
My goal for this course was to front cross between 3 and 4, blind cross between 6 and 7,  blind again between 14 and 15, and then work from the right all the way through the end of the course.
141 yards, SCT of 40. Our time was 36.74. There were 13 qualifiers; we were 11th. Just 3 points, but better than nothing. It was a fun course. 

So Sunday was the "up in the air" day where I didn't know if she would run or not. Turns out she ran Standard. All heart, my girl. My plan was to run on the left until I sent her over 6 and rear-crossed to 7. From there, I needed to make sure I didn't push her too far on 9 so she was tempted to go off course despite the strange angles but didn't pull up short and cause her to knock 9 either. From the table I planned to run out to the end of the triple then pull in to send her over 12 and rear cross the chute. I would handle from the inside of the loop from 14-17 then flip to turn her to 18 then handle 19 like a serpentine and push to 20. 
170 yards, SCT: 64. Our time was 55.56. There were only six dogs who qualified; we were fifth. Eight MACH points and that put us under 200 points to MACH! Even feeling lousy, my girl rocked the house and ran clean. I love her so much. She ran with all her heart. 

Here's the JWW course I scratched her from. 
We ended the weekend with a JWW Q and a Standard Q, 11 points, and with just 197 points remaining to earn our MACH.

And I'm pleased to say Vegas is 100% now and back to her normal self, on her normal diet, and acts as if nothing ever happened. Thank goodness.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I realize how far behind I am on my blog. Wow. Both of them, actually, and Leo had a birthday last week that all but got missed with all the chaos ensuing. Hopefully I can catch up everything in the next day or two.

The biggest thing that happened recently was last weekend. We were entered in an agility trial just south of us about 75 minutes. The show was four days, Friday through Monday; we were entered just Saturday and Sunday in Standard and JWW.

Friday night Vegas got me up at 1:45 am and then around an hour and a half later, finally getting up again when it was time to get up and get ready for the trial. Being dark in the outer reaches of the yard and a dark dog, I couldn't see what she was doing and was too tired to think much about it.

We arrived at the show site, unloaded and were walking to the building. All of a sudden she was practically dragging me to the grass patch. My hands were full and I was juggling three dog leashes so I wasn't very happy. But I soon learned why she was so persistent. She had pure liquid diarrhea. Uh oh! It all came together then. That must have been why she was up and down so much overnight.

We finished setting up, checked our maps, and settled in to wait until our walk. It was a couple hours still and during that time I took Vegas out a couple more times to the same result - walking around hunched and squatting trying to go and succeeding with only liquid drips. As the day progressed, the color became noticeably darker. Other than that she seemed okay.

That night she crashed out pretty hard, like normal. I didn't feed her other than pumpkin and some slippery elm capsules. Turns out she didn't eat the capsules so we dumped the contents of a few capsules in some ground turkey necks and she ate that. I took my son to the movies and we came home to a diarrhea mess on the entry (hard) floor and vomit on the throw rug at the back door. No good.

After taking care of that, we went to bed. Vegas was noticeably "off," but I had little for solution other than to try to get meds down her. I ran to the store after the cleanup and got Imodium and gave to her. She got me up another two or three times Saturday night, too. We went to the show not sure if we would run. I told her she needed to tell me and I just watched for signs that she was peppy. I hadn't fed her and she hadn't asked for anything either, the latter part something I didn't think about until later. Probably from lack of sleep is all I can figure cause that girl definitely knows how to ask for food and isn't shy about it.

As it got closer to our run time, she was peppy enough. I'd made sure she drank water and was just keeping her with me and petting her, then tried to see if I could get her to rev up like she normally does. She seemed okay, maybe tired, so I opted to run her in Standard. At that point I was thinking she possibly ate something she shouldn't have or we were dealing with something like giardia as we'd been to the park biking twice the week previous and I know she'd gotten a drink of puddle water on both occasions before I stopped her. My biggest concern at that point was really contagion for other dogs but wasn't sure what I could do about it; she'd been there the day previous, after all. As an aside for anyone thinking I wasn't being responsible with her at a dog show with something possibly contagious, I had no inkling of that all day Saturday. Diarrhea is somewhat common when showing dogs due to stress (positive or negative), anxiety, and excitement, plus the increased amount of treats they often get with training and working. 

After her standard run she noticeably went downhill. She was tired and more than willing to just crash. In fact, I'd taken her self-inflating pad from her crate in front of the bleachers and she lay down then started shivering. Rachel was nice enough to loan us a spare blanket and we wrapped her up in it. She kept on shuddering and was fully laying down head on the ground. Her gums got a little tacky and her scruff didn't contract as quickly as normal indicating some dehydration. Great. I was completely torn with what to do. I wasn't sure if I should pack up then and take her to the vet or wait and see if I could run Leo in his JWW class first. I hemmed and hawed and really couldn't decide. I knew she wasn't critical but I hated how badly she felt. I also hated to throw away the money (sadly enough) and this weekend was supposed to have been a bright moment in an otherwise very stressful time of my life.
In the end I scratched her from JWW and ran Leo. I stayed with V and let her rest on the floor for quite a while then started loading up our stuff. I had everything loaded except Leo's crate by the time I ran him. As soon as he was done we were headed up the freeway to our veterinary clinic.

After talking with the doctor and determining Vegas was dehydrated some, she asked about something I hadn't thought of. She asked if Vegas had any bones recently. It reminded me, the first time she had diarrhea the only thing I was able to pick up had been a decide size chunk of bone. At best guess it looked like the head of the leg bone on the chicken quarter she'd eaten. The doctor was concerned about hemorragic gastroenteritis, possibly caused by the bones scraping up her intestinal tract. She wanted to run some blood work to get an idea what Vegas' RBC was. We went ahead and did that and the results came back high. She said normal was up to 55%; Vegas was 64% plus, confirming HGE. She recommended going to the emergency clinic for the night where they could administer IV fluids and antibiotics while monitoring her. The doctor said that was what she recommended as aggressive treatment, telling me that even with aggressive treatment 10% of dogs die from HGE. SCARY!!!!!

Except Vegas' anxiety alone would make leaving her difficult and I always worry about bloat. The other concern was cost. Being unemployed screws with a lot of things including high-cost veterinary care, despite having an insurance plan. Plus, in discussing Vegas' anxiety - as the doctor had seen just taking her back to the treatment room to draw blood - leaving her at the ER could be counterproductive to healing.

I opted to have them administer subcutaneous fluids at the clinic and send us home with meds. She was given two prescriptions, one for Metronidazole and the other for a latest generation of the antibiotic Baytril. We were then to come back daily for a recheck and more SQ fluids and possibly recheck bloodwork late in the week. Oh, and a bland diet for a while.
There was a kitty crying that drew her attention.
The fluids were cool so she wore her sweater for a few days to keep her cozy.

So long story summarized, I went home, got Vegas situated, ran to the store for chicken, rice, and broth, came back and started cooking up a couple pots. Once it was ready (she was very impatient for food at that point, a good sign), I fed her and gave her first dose of the meds. She went to rest until bedtime. Monday she got up, had diarrhea again, ate, and we went to the vet for another round of fluids. By Tuesday morning she wasn't having diarrhea as often but she'd started leaking urine the night before so I was having to keep wee-wee pads and a waterproof pad around and I'd had to change bedding multiple times. Tuesday she was doing well enough, no diarrhea and a stool that was starting to form so the doctor felt she didn't need more fluids. Instead I was to just keep adding liquid to her meals to ensure she was getting a lot of hydration. As long as things remained fairly status quo we didn't need to come back.

That brings me to today. This morning she had her last dose of the Metronidazole. Everything has been on the up and up since Tuesday. She stopped "leaking" (THANK GOD!) and kept firming up. She's remained on a bland diet until tonight as I wanted to make sure her colon had the time it needed to heal. I've also only allowed her to have her meals, no treats, all week. She kept getting better and better to the point that by Wednesday afternoon she was ready to have the zoomies again, playing, digging out toys, and annoying me when I tried to work. Thursday was worse and Friday I had to get her out. She'd been on a couple errands with me during the week but it wasn't enough so Friday she went to the dog park and today to the beach. So far so good.

My plan at this point is to wean her over to ground pork with some bone meal for the next few days (I have a three pound package to use.) and then work her back into her normal meals. I'm hopeful this won't happen again, but boy am I going to watch her eating habits and make her chew her food better instead of scarfing as she has a habit to do.

This was a very scary experience. The concern from the vet was over her going septic what with having an open pathway from her colon to her blood for bacteria. They apparently can go downhill very, very quickly. It scared the tar out of me and seeing her not playing, not interested in food, and just looking sick (It's in the eyes.) made it all the more serious. I'm glad my girl is back to normal now and hope this never happens again.