Monday, July 27, 2009

Life and Death

I guess that's a pretty ambitious title for a silly little blog. I often bite off more than I can chew.

I was thinking the other day that I have been very fortunate. I have a lot of four legged friends. Their lives are so much shorter than ours and I have not lost very many of them so far. I know that will change.

Someone commented that children who become very close to dogs may get their hearts broken when the dog dies. I expect they will. (Adults too.) This person felt that maybe it would be better for the child to have a lesser relationship with the dogs so they are not hurt. I am tired of that kind of thinking about pets and love and life in general!

Every one of us will die some day. My clients often begin an estate tax conversation by saying, "If I die..." Evil person that I am, I always correct them. "When you die..." I think we all need to face death more honestly. I don't want to sit around thinking about it all the time, but I think we could be a healthier society if we were less terrified of growing old and dying. I believe that one of the millions of things our four legged friends teach us is that death is part of the deal. I am willing to have my heart broken any number of times if it means that I can love and be loved by dogs and people.

Stepping down from my soap box. My friend Tootsie died recently. She was a few months younger than Jazz. They had been linked in my mind because I first began noticing Beth and Tootsie at the same time Jazz and I began training and competing in Rally and Agility. The two dogs were of a similar size, so it seemed for a while that it was either Jazz on the line and Tootsie on deck or the other way around. Neither dog started their career as a star, but I know Tootsie was loved for her gentle soul and her extreme good looks.

I just wanted to say goodbye.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another Agility Weekend

Jazz and I had a great weekend at the Quad City Dog Center. We entered the Ready Steady Go NADAC trial and had a good time as usual.

My plan for this weekend was to try to be smooth and not to get too far in front of Jazz. It seems to slow him down instead of speed him up and we really need to speed up. We had an almost perfect jumpers run Saturday and we even made time, but I distracted him at the finish and he dropped the very last bar. I heard groans from the spectators and probably one from me. We did salvage the day by getting a qualifying run in Hoopers. It seems really easy to me and I like having a chance to get a qualifier in something.

Sunday was a better day. We got our first Open standard qualifying run - only 5 points because we are too slow as usual, but at least we qualified. We ran six runs on Sunday and four of them were clean. I am very proud of our nice clean runs, but we were over time on every one. We got the 5 point qualifier, but nothing else. I hope to find ways to increase our speed.

I still have a problem with my mouth. The problem would be that I don't know when to shut it - as in hollering "here" before Jazz finished the final jump in a perfect jumpers run. I told him "no" to keep him from taking a wrong tunnel and that is just dumb. He doesn't like to be told no and then goes slow so he will be sure that I am not going to yell at him again. What a mistake that was. I need to really practice hard on what to say and when. Also - what not to say.

We also accomplished some good things. I think our timing and teamwork are improving. I think I am handling more smoothly. I ended every run with lots of praise and lots of tiny little treats. He seemed happy to be there and content in his crate. I believe he ended every run with a sprint for the finish so he could get all that praise, attention and those treats. He followed me around this morning and stood by the car for a while, so I think he was ready to go again.

We need to get faster. I think some of the problem is that I am still giving Jazz too little information and I criticize him when he is wrong. I cannot tell him no and expect him to run top speed. He will slow down and try hard to be right.

Things to work on for next time:
1. Begin working on out and close, or left and right, or some clear signal to help him know which way to go.
2. Stop saying no and here. I will only use here at the end of a run if he isn't coming back for the leash. I will not tell him no unless he is running for the door or attacking someone.
3. Say his name when I want his attention. He will look and I can give him direction.

There is one other odd item from this weekend. I have been at so many trials and people leave things laying all over. I have never heard of anything being stolen. I am now positive that there was a thief in the crowd. The thief may have had two legs or four, but someone out there stole my frosted sugar cookies right off the top of my crate!! I suspect human rather than dog because the cookies were in a plastic bag. Anyway - whoever you are, you must be in league with the Wii Fit lady. My long drive home was sugar free. Very sad.

Wii Fit - or humiliation by cartoon

My daughter bought a Wii Fit. I thought it sounded like fun and decided to give it a try. When you start using the machine, it lets you design a little cartoon person to represent you as you exercise. I had such a good time choosing her clothes, hair, glasses, face shape. It was like paper dolls when I was little. I was feeling really good and she was a cute little woman wearing leg warmers and a blue dress. How fun is this?

Then the little woman asked my age and height. I am not ashamed of either, so I was happy to tell her and she was so cheerful. Then she said she would weigh me....uh oh. Still - I am a brave person and waited for the results. This would be a good time to mention that I already know I am overweight and was feeling self-righteous about exercising to correct the problem. Anyway - cute little Mii announced my weight and said, "You are obese." Then the beautiful little cartoon woman inflated to a pot bellied, chubby cartoon woman. What the heck is that?! I cannot believe that I was insulted by a cartoon! Even more unbelievable is that I didn't shut the thing off. I let it keep going.

Next is the part where the machine (no longer a cute little woman in my mind) tests your balance in order to determine your "fitness" age. I stood as still as I could and the machine said, "Oh - your fitness age is 5 years older than your actual age." I believe at that point I also became 5 inches shorter than my actual height! I thought being called fat was bad. Now I have been called fat and old by a snotty little cartoon girl on a TV screen! I think I'll just see what comes next.

Really - too dumb to quit. After the initial insult period the snotty little thing asks you to set goals and offers trite little "tips" on weight loss. Fun. At long last we got to the exercises and they were fun. Just when I was really enjoying playing the games, snotty little machine says I have been exercising for 30 minutes and had better take a break. For crying out loud! Hopefully, even thin, young people have to take a break at 30 minutes.

All in all - ignore the mean machine and the games are fun. Unfortunately, the next time I signed on the snotty girl told me it had been two weeks since my last session and implied that I would be fat forever at this rate. What does she know? (Well - she knows my actual weight, so I guess I'd better be nice to her.) She did offer me a sort of booby prize by telling me my fitness age is now 10 years younger than I am. I am totally baffled, but if I try this a few more times, maybe I can figure out how to cheat and it will tell me my fitness age is 21. Hey - maybe I can only put one foot on the scale and the Mii will go back to her orginal cute size. Maybe I should just stop obsessing about a machine.