USDAA Drama

Seems like it’s been a while since we’ve had some good agility drama. Or maybe I just notice less. But, man, USDAA does know how to drama. Their latest being doubling their tournament qualification requirements for nationals as well as requiring 10 titling Qs. Which is quite a jump! It has not gone over well, for multiple reasons.

I think what it comes down to is that USDAA was one of the few places where it was less about the Q and where people actually ‘competed’. In the US, pretty much the only place left for an actual agility ‘competition’ (where people are actually attempting to run full out and win) is at nationals. Local trials and regionals have become nothing more than a means to an end of getting there. At least with USDAA at least it was fairly straightforward to qualify for nationals. But not anymore, they have joined the masses and it’s now, once again, about collecting Qs rather than actually, well, running agility. Which is good for making money for the organization, but so sad for the sport.

So where is agility in the US going? When it becomes about collecting Qs instead of, well, attempting to do the best you can – that’s not why I love agility.  Of course there is a wide range of reasons people love agility, but I do think there is a subset of folks that really do want to do agility … just for agility. To do the best they can, to run without thinking about qualifications and double Qs. And of course you can always do that, no one is stopping you from running that way at every trial – but it’s way more fun when the people around you are of a similar mindset. I love agility where people are pushing and really going for it – it’s inspiring and fun. Focus on consistency and qualifying kills the joy of agility in my mind. I do realize that for many folks that’s not true – but I also think you can have your pick of ANY venue in the US and have plenty of consistency based goals to focus on – but not many ‘competitive’ goals. There is no benefit in winning, even at AKC nationals, it’s still all about just playing it safe so you can get through.

So, yeah, it was sad with USDAA’s announcement as it’s the end of the era. There was much grandstanding about going to UKI … where the only reason people run in UKI locally is to qualify for nationals! People want to actually COMPETE, but it’s just not something we have available except for very expensive, hard to qualify, hard to get to national events. And to me it’s not about ‘winning nationals’, it’s about being in an environment where people are finally DOING AGILITY, not going through the motions collecting Qs.

Of course, I had no plans to go to USDAA nationals, and I most definitely don’t now. I feel bad for people that wanted to go to nationals and live in areas where the qualifications are simply not even feasible. As for me, USDAA courses are still more interesting than AKC, so we’ll continue to play at our very limited local trials. There’s even a chance that Bright might get her Advanced title at her next trial. You know, five years later.

My interest in agility has remained the same through the years, I love training it, I love running it – trials, well, they give us something to work on. I don’t have any interest in traveling or being on world team or winning nationals, I just like to do the best we can. Would love to see more of the Cups, even with non-international courses (backsides and threadles are not necessary to make a course interesting!). I have less interest in UKI, which seems like a cup where I paying a lot more money for no apparent reason. And the only training in the ring thing has never sold me, nor do I ever see anyone taking advantage of it in actual meaningful way. It doesn’t matter if you ‘correct’ your dog during one run if you’re just going to have no criteria for the other 5 … that’s not a training issue, that’s a handling issue. A-hem.

Anyway, finished up with my summer trick classes this week – so many cute tricks, gah! Really had a lot of fun with that, and it was hugely helpful for me as well. I may have trained a lot of tricks, but most of them aren’t on cue – so that’s our project, first making sure the dogs can actually reliably do the tricks they already know, then just going through the tricks we haven’t trained.

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Summer Goes On … and On

So weird to think of Texas drowning while the ‘wet’ PNW sits up here with yet more 100+ degree weather this week. Just devastating to see the pictures from down there, hard to believe. The world has certainly been thrown for a loop lately, scary to think what it might throw next at this point.

But at least there are kittens, and they are ridiculously distracting. I can’t even express the sheer amount of cuteness going on around here. I’m not sure how old they are, maybe five weeks? It was a week of discovering how to jump, how to climb, how to stalk, how to pounce, how to play with toys – you name something cute and they learned to do it this week.

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Kittens took a trip to obedience class this week, it was cool enough that they could hang out in the open car and watch the sheep while I worked with the dogs. Then we headed to the shelter where they got some vaccinations. Which seems excessive to me, especially considering how much they’re going to be exposed to IN MY BATHROOM, but, once again, not my decision. They seem fine and none the worse for wear for the adventure. We’ll go back in another couple weeks again.

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In the meantime, I suppose to be fair they’re not just in the bathroom, they also get to romp in my bedroom now too. Did I mention how cute they are? And Lulu continues to be SUCH a good mom, so loving, so patient, so involved and concerned with everything they do. She’s still nursing them constantly, calling to them and making sure everything is okay and playing with them too (which, have I mentioned, is super cute?).

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Everyone is using the litterbox like a champ, Lulu is a good teacher. And Girl Kitten is also eating the kibble, despite the constant nursing. Not sure about Boy Kitten, he’s still kind of a sissy and not nearly as brave and adventurous as Girl Kitten. Still, he’s equally cute and once he’s comfortable he’s super fun too. And the romping and chasing together – just … ridiculous.

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Kittens have had their share of visitors, and at this point they just seem oblivious to everything. I hadn’t had the dogs in with the kittens for a while as that would involve putting Lulu away, and she is not into that! But tonight we did and the kittens were a little more aware that dogs were not just big pieces of furniture. Still, it didn’t take long for them to be romping all over the dogs, but occasionally hissing at them if they weren’t sure what the dogs were doing.

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And Fizban met the kittens! Which wasn’t really planned, I had forgotten my cats weren’t put away when I had the kittens and the dogs out. Fizban didn’t know what to make of them, gave them hisses and pouted in the doorway for quite some time. Then would saunter over curiously, then remember they were kittens and grumble and sulk back to the doorway (kittens didn’t really notice him at this point). Finally he started to get less cranky and curiosity won him over, he came a little closer, gave them some stealth sniffs and looked conflicted, but didn’t retreat. Finally the Girl Kitten was just having a wild time playing with a dog toy right in front of him so he could really investigate her without her noticing and you could see him relax and sprawl out on his side and settle in to watch the action. At one point she rolled herself right up to him and he gently pulled her in and groomed her a bit. Then he growled and scared her, but, still, he definitely relaxed about the whole kitten thing. Dragon, of course, was no where to be found.

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Anyway, the kittens and Lulu are doing great, and all growing exponentially. Lulu loves having access to the room and sitting in the window and cuddling on the bed, she’s a nice girl. One happy family, fun to have them visit.

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Meanwhile, yes, summer goes on and I’m getting impatient, but thankful I pushed back starting my agility classes until mid-September – this summer is not done with us yet. But the days are getting shorter, the nights chillier – we’ll get there. So looking forward to getting back to agility, and entered out first trial back, USDAA. Which is a lot of runs to just dive back in with, but maybe will let us brush the dust off. Or maybe the whole weekend will be a train wreck. Hopefully a fun train wreck, I suppose. We need to ease back into it first, but we have one more week off to go. Summer of tricks and hiking has been fun, but now I’m ready to go DO THINGS.

Eclipse!

Feeling pretty lucky I just happened to live in the path of totality of the solar eclipse. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but having experienced it, I feel incredibly fortunate. And the difference between totality and just a sliver of sun is immense, 99.9 just doesn’t cut it – the total solar eclipse is something that just has to be experienced. So, yeah, if you get a chance, brave the traffic, travel up to totality and experience the full thing – it’s like nothing on earth.

I hadn’t planned to take any pictures, as I knew the experts out there would do a much better job, but I took a few shots during totality and I’m glad I did – such a memory! And so glad I went down to Poodletopia and got to experience it with others, it felt pretty darn special.

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2 minutes goes by REALLY quickly! The stars in the sky, the dusk all the way around the horizon, the crazy colors that you never see otherwise – and the corona. It was quite spectacular!

And the crescent shadows were mesmerizing:

The dogs, of course, had no clue – not a thrilling day out for them. They also got to just come and hang out while I took pictures at the Summer Cup – I think they’re about done with this whole summer break thing. We’re all starting to look forward to getting back agility in September. We’ve made LISTS. Lists always make everything feel more productive.

My goal for the Fall is to really focus on breaking down the behaviors we’ve had issues with and taking each piece separately. You know, like a good dog trainer. Especially for Haku, we get stuck in a rut of practicing, obedience is so … repetitive. Little pieces, little tiny pieces everywhere where I’m really being clear and consistent with what I’m asking for.

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In the meantime, kittens are growing by leaps and bounds. Literally, they can now leap and bound and now climb EVERYTHING. Including me. Ouch. I kind of want to cut their claws, but on the other hand I want them to be safe as they’re climbing the cat tower like little squirrels. I can’t even express how indescribably cute their antics are – and CONSTANTLY, kittens are ALWAYS doing something cute. Really glad I ended up doing this, kittens are good for the soul.

Mama cat is looking fabulous, she’s continuing to eat like a pig and she’s filling out so nicely, her coat is looking great and she’s so much more relaxed and comfortable. I moved the family into the bathroom where they now have full run of the room – they’ve made themselves at home. Lulu is a GREAT mama, she’s just sweet and playful with her kittens and they are the CUTEST little happy family. The happy calls they make to each other is just ridiculous. Lulu continues to be super sweet and snuggly as well, she’s not going to have a problem finding a home either.

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Now that only a door separates the kittens from the rest of the household, Fizban likes to sit next to the door and growl – which Lulu just ignores. But she’s not a fan of the dogs that are always right there when I open the door. Haku and Navarre are HUGE fans of kittens, Bright acts all dramatic around them, naturally.  Kittens remain pretty neutral towards the dogs, they don’t really know what to make of them, so they basically just ignore them and use them as jungle gyms. Kittens are huge time wasters, though I need to take some new pictures. They grow up so fast! They are maybe around 5 weeks now?

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Summer hiking continues – so much fun to meet all the LJ folks this summer!

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I Could Get Used to This

Oh, clouds and even rain in August – it makes my heart so happy. Then the cooler temps this week, if Summer was more like this I could get behind this season. Of course, in my mind I’m like, “Okay, Summer’s done, on to Fall!” but Summer is unlikely to agree with me. For now though, yes, this I like. Dogs like it too! We’ve been able to get out and about a lot more, as it’s not 98 degrees and a smokey hell anymore. Still, days are getting shorter, Fall is coming … we’ll get there.

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The solar eclipse is coming right up too, I decided to just play with my camera at the Summer Cup and continue the dogs’ agility break. I want to give them a full 6 weeks off, and if we were going to run this weekend I would have wanted to start easing them back in before now. I’ll enjoy watching the fun though, and we have some fun trials planned in September. We’ve been enjoying our break, but looking forward to getting back to agility classes – and the Confidence Camp is right around the corner too, that will be quite the adventure.

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As for foster kittens, that has been a bit crazy, but things are calming down. Mama cat (whose name IS Lulu, 10 points to Heather’s memory for once), did not want to eat or drink, which is not a good thing – especially as they all have upper respiratory infections. Even after Lulu was feeling better from the antibiotics, it’s like she WANTED to eat, but just couldn’t. So getting her fluids and trying everything we could think of to entice her to eat. Didn’t have any luck though, so ended up having to syringe feed her to get her appetite started – poor girlie! The good news, she’s finally eating (and none of the fancy shit we tried, she just wants plain kibble – no canned food, baby food, tuna, chicken – just kibble). And she’s finally drinking … out of the toilet. Lulu is very particular, and not fancy at all. She’s eating like a horse though, and her milk is back, so the kittens are now back to mostly nursing instead of eating canned food.

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So, whew! And kittens never seemed to feel as bad as Lulu, they’ve been playful and snuggly and curious and adventurous the whole time – and only getting more so. The girl kitten is the total pig, she’s actually bigger than her brother. They’re both very sweet and friendly. And they’re using the litterbox! Sometimes. They kind of had a crash course in everything this week, but they handled it all like champs. Now it’s cute kitten tumbling and romping, and happy mama taking care of them – she is a very good mama now that she’s feeling better.

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I did figure it would be easy enough to find homes for all three while they were waiting to grow up – but turns out the shelter is against that sort of thing. They don’t do ‘pre-adoptions’, whoever gets there first to adopt them when they’re old enough gets them. And this is why people don’t want to deal with shelters and rescues. This is a great opportunity for someone who is looking for a kitten that was raised around dogs to know they’re getting the right match for their household (as you know there will be lots of border collie lovin with these kittens). Instead it’s just totally random. So, yeah, I won’t try to find them homes then. And bringing the now healthy family back into the shelter to wait for adoption, where they will be exposed, once again, to all the shelter illnesses, seems counter-intuitive to me. That’s okay, I’ll do my best to raise some outgoing and well socialized kittens, get them healthy, and then send them off to be neutered at 8 weeks and adopted out. Still, at least one of the kittens MAY go to someone I know, if they get there in time or whatever – that would be fun to see them grow.

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Still, getting animals from breeders, just seems easier at this point – you know what you’re getting. Though no puppy raising for us this year, didn’t work out – which is a little disappointing as it would have been fun to see a puppy that was related to both London and Bean – but puppies are a heck of a lot more work than kittens, so it’s not a bad thing. Kittens will fulfill my baby animal needs for quite some time – SO CUTE.

Fizzy and Dragon have no idea what’s happening behind closed doors, but they’re pretty horrified at the amount of food I’ve been throwing away. They did get to see the vet, I had a mobile vet come out to update my cats vaccines (which probably did nothing, but made me feel better) and see Lulu. I really like them, as I have used them for at home euthanasia, and this was a much nicer reason for a house call.

Fizban thought that having an in home vet appointment was AWESOME – and they fed him continuously! Fizzy is always very popular. And, if you’re curious, 17.9 pounds. Dragon thought this was the WORST THING EVER – but maybe not as bad as actually going to the vet. But he may not have admitted that at the time. He was like 18.9 pounds, about a pound more than Fizban. And guess which cat already needs a dental? Poor Dragon, he’s like a lightning rod of issues – he’s three. At five, Fizzy’s teeth look pretty darn good – Fizzy gets all the breaks. Neither cat had any sign of heart issues – hurrah!

Oh, and Lulu, 5.7 pounds of nothing but skin and bones, but she’s making up for now, she’s doing her best demolish a whole bag of kibble in a week.

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Kittens!

I had waffled back and forth on the foster kitten plan for this summer, my last experience with raising kittens with the Sunshine kittens was such a hot mess. Still, it’s been long enough that the idea felt interesting again, and the Newberg Animal Shelter was in desperate need of foster homes, so I decided to give it a go.

So meet Lulu, yet another incredibly tiny and very young looking mama:

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Apparently she had been a feral kitten that a little girl had tamed, but they couldn’t keep her. Not sure how the whole pregnant thing came about, or even how old she is. But apparently Lulu was quite fierce at the shelter at first, but now is all sweet and cuddly. I like badass cats, so I approve. She’s been nothing but sweet with me, so that makes it easier.

And just two kittens, which seems VERY easy! I believe a boy and girl, I’m rusty on my kitten sexing skills, and don’t want to traumatize the babies. They both have very interesting and unique markings:

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Now, I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure if mama is actually named Lulu, because I can’t remember, I’ll have to check. Not sure about the kittens names, I’ll have to think about it. In person they shall be called, “Kitten-kitten” because that’s how it works.

Kittens are maybe 3 weeks old? Very tiny, but seem to be pretty aware and fairly mobile. I don’t remember what the SS kittens were like at that age. They seem friendly if somewhat bewildered if you hold them. Mama cat likes to come get lots of loves and belly rubs and make the biscuits with her TEENY TINY ITTY BITTY paws. Damn that is one small cat – and very skinny, she needs to eat.

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They’re set up in the Giant Uber Closet, right now they’re in a big dog crate, and eventually they’ll have the whole master bath and closet to play in. Fizban has already barged in looking for the food and was shocked to find cats in there. Bright is way more interested in getting in there than the other dogs, no idea why she’s so fascinated.

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As this was a spur of the moment decision today, tomorrow my cats get vaccinated. Upper respiratory stuff is always rampant in cats in shelters, and while they were not in there for long, there is a good chance they’re going to come down with crud – which could then spread to my cats. Which is not the worst thing in the world, mostly concerning for the kittens, but, yeah, that is one of the down sides to fostering.

Mostly hoping that this experience goes a lot smoother than the last. So far Lulu seems to be feeding kittens and being a good mom, which is good. However, she hasn’t eaten anything today that I can tell, which worries me. She has fancy smelly kitten canned food, but hasn’t touched it. But it’s been a lot for her the last few days, hopefully she’ll settle in.

So kittens will be here until they’re 8-12 weeks and spayed/neutered and ready for adoption. Eventually the kittens will get to meet the dogs, not sure about the cats – and just depends on what Lulu thinks of dogs – she doesn’t have to have any exposure to them if she doesn’t want to.

Hopefully it won’t stress Dragon out to have them here, obviously they’re separated, but he’s a sensitive soul. I bet Fizban will like to meet the kittens eventually. And eat all their food.

So hopefully this will be mostly just a fun experience, kittens will not have any issues, mama will get fat and healthy and they’ll head off to their new homes as summer comes to an end. And I’ll get to hang out with cute kittens. Who, btw, are terribly unphotogenic at the moment. This will need work.

In other news I couldn’t figure out why I was so weirdly sore this week, but it finally clicked – it was teaching the dogs to jump through my arms. It requires me to bent over in weird positions, as especially in the beginning the ‘hoop’ of my arms needs to be very low – but my legs and body have to be out of the way. I did some pretty ridiculous acrobatics to work on this one.

Navarre wins at jumping through my arms, while Bright is the worst. Haku can do it, but not as fluently as Navarre. I was working on them jumping through a hoop to start with, which I thought would be relatively straightforward for all these agility dogs – and I was so wrong about that. I think because I figured it would be easy I made it way harder for myself. They eventually figured it out, but way easier with an assistant, let me say.

Very much enjoying my summer trick classes, and really fun to work on these tricks I never have trained before. Sometimes it surprises me which seem harder than others!

Otherwise it remains in the 90s with terrible smoke and smog – the air quality is terrible. Really fun to have Penny visiting from Australia, but so sad that this was the ‘view’ from when we went to Portland:

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Fingers crossed it actually cools off this weekend, it’s been one heck of a Summer. Record breaking heat, record breaking lack of rain and I’m sure record breaking poor air quality (for an insanely long time period!) – Summer has been especially not fun this year. But it’s almost mid-August! Days will be getting shorter, things should start sliding towards Fall, hopefully the worst is behind us.

And to end on a happy note, check out this amazing illustration of Fizban by ‘Draw All the Dogs’ on Facebook:

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Very cool!

 

Kind of Like the End of the World

What a weird week, it’s just sort of like our January, but in reverse. January I ended up cancelling classes and being housebound because of the snow and ice. This week it’s ridiculous heat and horrible air quality. It really feels like some sort of terrible glimpse into the future, very apocalyptic with the smog and smoke from the the fires making it look like the end of the world. Worst air quality in the nation – what an achievement! Yesterday the smoke was so bad it was almost like it was overcast – yet still 105. Though, to be fair, we never did make it to the forecast of 110, so, hey, that’s something.

So what day is it now? Dogs are super bored, I don’t even want them to be outside with the air quality so poor. Chewies and conditioning exercises only go so far. Navarre has learned to lay on the a/c vent though. Things seem better today though, and no more 110s in the forecast – just 90s as far as the eye can see. More like, well, normal August. Have I mentioned it’s the worst month? I probably should be more productive, but I feel like we’re in some sort of weird limbo waiting for things to go back to ‘normal’. Of course, I DO have lots of lists of tricks I could teach – that would probably be more productive than video games and reading.

To add to the slightly dream-like aura of life around here at the moment, apparently this blog was featured on the WordPress website, which makes my journal about the life and times of my dogs way more popular than it normally is (and really should be). So I find that rather amusing – 15 minutes of fame. 😉

Some pictures of hikes when it was less hot …

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August – The Worst Month

Bright is having fierce dreams – she’s kicking someone’s dream ass. There is going to be a lot of dogs laying around the house this week, I don’t even have a frame of reference for 110 degrees. I went ahead and cancelled my classes, as even though they’re in the morning, it’s just too ridiculously hot. Ah, summer – I just don’t get the appeal. Assuming my tomatoes make through this week, I may finally be getting some ripe ones though! I don’t know what to say about our increasingly hot summers, nothing I can do but be thankful I have air conditioning and hope that I die before the world becomes a barren wasteland.

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Took the dogs out for a hike this morning, still cool enough at that point. Navarre thought it took way too long to get to the swimming though. That will probably be our last real exercise until … I don’t even know, the forecast looks horrendous. Maybe I’ll take them out just for swimming this week, and maybe go myself – it will probably actually be hot enough that river swimming will seem like a good idea.

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Dogs had a great time at the beach last weekend, though there was a crazy amount of people down in Waldport. I expect more people in summer, but this was way more than I’m used to seeing. I’m hoping it’s not the new normal. Doggies are sometimes ridiculously well behaved – I keep thinking we need a troublemaker – these three are kind of creepily good all the time. I know that shouldn’t freak me out, but it does.

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To be fair, they’re not ALWAYS good – the other day I was using Navarre as a demo dog in Trick classes and I went to put him back in the car and he was like, “NO,” and ran back into the building and broke into the agility arena – I think he misses his agility! We’ve been enjoying tricks this summer though, really fun to have an excuse to play around with tricks I’ve never trained before. Last week Navarre got to learn backwards leg weaving, which was fun. The dogs know a lot of tricks!

So, yeah, hello, August! My least favorite month – you make me appreciate all the months that aren’t you. And this is only day one. Sigh.

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