Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Anorexic Dog

In late September, Rye was diagnosed with pancreatitis. She had been reluctant to eat for several days and one day she wouldn't eat breakfast at all. I went to work and when I came home in the early afternoon, she still didn't want to eat and she was lethargic with no interest in chasing squirrels. It was a Thursday--the day our vet is closed--but a new vet's office had just opened up down the street from us and we'd been to other vets in their system before, so I called and they were able to fit us in right away.

After a lot of bloodwork, testing for everything from low electrolytes to lepto to pancreatitis, we had our answer. Rye had elevated pancreas levels and everything else was perfect. We got an IV of fluids to flush her system out, some anti-nausea meds, some samples of a low-fat diet, and a recommendation to feed foods with 10% fat content or less.

Rye is a thief, so it's not uncommon for her to pounce while we're walking and dive into the treat pouch coming out with a mouthful of snacks. She's also very anxious, having strong reactions to off-leash dogs, Jeeps, FedEx trucks, mail carriers, school buses, and cats to name a few things, so we use  a lot of treats on walks and most of those were high value treats so she'd choose me and the treats over melting down at the sight of a cat or a mail carrier. I was shocked when I read the labels of our high value treats and saw that all of them were over 10% fat content and several of them were over 30%!

We eliminated all of those treats from her diet (Barley was happy to make sure they didn't go to waste). I significantly reduced the amount of string cheese she got for agility trials, going from one stick per day of a trial to less than one stick for the entire weekend. Barley and I went to PetCo and read every bag of food's label until we found one with 10% fat content. 

For the next three months, she was doing really well. There were some mornings where she didn't want her breakfast, especially on Mondays after three-day agility trials when she'd gotten a few extra treats, but she was always hungry after going for a walk or if I bribed her with some of the Honest Kitchen Pour Overs we'd reviewed in the fall.

So why did my little girl suddenly start refusing food over the holidays?

Around New Year's Eve, Rye didn't want to eat dinner. Eventually, she did, but then she wasn't interested in breakfast. Or the next dinner. She was still taking treats on walks and if I mixed some canned pumpkin into her bowl, she'd eat a bit, but she was reluctant to do so. On our last day full day at my parents, she refused to eat anything at all. The next morning, still nothing until my dad scrambled an egg for her to see if we could get something in her system before we had to drive for 12+ hours. She was still romping with her cousin and walking normally on our daily walks, so I wasn't too worried, but something was definitely off. My family had been great about not giving her scraps and with the exception of a slice of bacon she'd stolen when our backs were turned, she hadn't had any dietary indiscretions. 

When we got home, she was eating a little better, but there were still days when she refused to eat, so I called our vet. Rye had played in a lot of mud puddles in Alabama, so I was afraid she'd picked up some sort of parasite or bacteria--or that she was having another bout of pancreatitis. We did a few more blood tests and ran a stool sample and everything came back clear.

But that still didn't explain why she wasn't eating.

The vet and I talked about our options. She mentioned using a bland prescription food for upset stomachs, but she also understood my concerns about the food having the first protein so far down the list with all of Rye's agility--and we decided to take just one can to see if Rye even liked it so we'd know if it was a viable option. We also talked about doing an x-ray to see if Rye's stomach looked ok, but since she didn't seem in pain and her stool sample looked normal, we decided to put that off for now. It was looking like she might have just been dealing with stress. We'd been gone for two weeks, walking in different parks, living with another cat and another dog plus my parents and my siblings, and we hadn't had agility class or trials in three weeks. In other words, Rye's little world had been rocked. Barley thrives from the extra attention and exploring different trails, but that's really hard for Rye. We decided to just watch her while she readjusted to her normal routine and if anything changed, we'd come right back in.

This is where Rye is most relaxed: sandwiched between her siblings.

A few days later, I got an email from our pet insurance that our claim had been improved and I clicked on our portal to see how much money I'd be getting back. Under the diagnosis section, I was shocked to see ANOREXIA! My puppy had anorexia?!

A quick Google search revealed that this wasn't what originally came to mind. Rye doesn't have any body issues. She's not refusing to eat because she thinks she looks fat in her agility videos. She's not refusing to eat because she's looking for some part of her life she can control. In dogs, anorexia is just a term that means the dog has lost its appetite. There's pseudo-anorexia, which can be caused by issues like dental pain or sore chewing muscles, and true anorexia, which can be caused by psychological issues like stress and anxiety, nausea, or inability to smell.

Rye is back to her normal, goofy, sometimes neurotic self. She's eating fairly regularly, except for the day after a scent trial when we'd taken a particularly stressful walk, so it seems like she does have stress-related anorexia.

She had to make sure nobody snuck up behind her while I tried to take pictures.

Maybe one day I'll know what it feels like to have a normal pet that only needs regular wellness checks and vaccinations, but for now, we'll be embracing this new adventure and looking at the different ways that I can help Rye deal with her anxiety, so we can continue to have fun and adventure without starving my tiny terror.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Finding Winter Fun

Winter has finally arrived in northeast Ohio. We've had snow and extreme cold that's made it hard to get in good walks the last few days. Our neighborhood gets very slippery because they don't plow the residential streets very well, so unless I'm feeling particularly brave, Barley and Rye get separate very short walks to stretch their legs. Rye's also been rebelling against her boots, so that's kept us home a few times so that I can make sure she doesn't stay out too long and hurt her paws.

Luckily, Rye loves to romp through the snow--even more than she likes to go for walks--so it's worked out well.

Barley's also been spending some time out in the yard.

But she's not loving these very cold days. She much prefers snowy days when it's in the high 20s or low 30s. She's not amused by the teens at all, especially with all of the wind we've had lately.

It doesn't take her long to start heading back to house and if I don't let her in, she'll sit and glare while Rye romps.

We've also been finding ways to amuse ourselves inside, too. A couple months ago, I finally broke down and bought a very basic DSLR camera. We haven't had too much time to play around with the camera yet, and it's been a long time since I took photography in college with my film camera, so I haven't gotten any great pictures yet, but we're having fun experimenting with the different settings. 

Rye and I have been taking pictures while she plays ball. 

I always love watching Rye move and capturing that movement is high on my list of photography goals. Staying indoors to take some of these photos is giving me a chance to refresh my memory on different settings while Rye's in a smaller area because she's fast and it's a lot harder to catch her in the yard! 

I've also got some work to do with getting timing down, too, but it's brought me a lot of laughs to see what's getting captured!

I wanted Barley to get in on the photography fun, too, and I've always been obsessed with the photos of dogs trying to catch treats. Poor Barley had some trouble with this. She's usually really good at catching treats, but I think the camera distracted her and she kept staring at me and the treats would just fall down in front of her or bounce off her nose.

Rye was also a bit of a distraction for Barley because any time treats are flying through the air, Rye wants to be there, too. Barley doesn't care about balls, so when Rye was playing with me, she was content to stay on the couch. Rye demanded some turns catching treats, too.

I did get some fun faces, but I think this is probably easiest to do with a tripod--it's not easy trying to throw a treat and hold a camera at the same time! We were also playing at night, so without any light coming in the windows, I had to use the flash and Barley's eyes get all creepy with the flash. 

Once she finally caught one, we called it quits, so we could end on a high note!

I'm looking forward to taking more of these pictures from different angles and when we don't need the flash. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Winter Wonderland Trial

When Barley and I started competing in Scent Trials, we started with C-WAGS trials because they were offered close to home and we quickly learned that the focus was really on having fun with your dog rather than the competition aspect.

About a year ago, one of our agility classmates opened a scent work and barn hunt training facility, so we had yet another place to compete close to home. It's quickly become our favorite place to trial because not only do we get to spend time with our friends, but they always have seasonal trials. During our summer scent league, which started in July, we got red, white, and blue ribbons and in October, we got Halloween-themed ribbons. They also give each entrant a bandana, so Barley and Rye are expanding their wardrobes with matching bandanas!

When we saw they were holding a Winter Wonderland trial, we had to sign up! Of course, Mother Nature also wanted to show up to the wonderland. My weather app and all of the local weather sources were predicting 12-20 inches of snow for the weekend. I went to bed on Friday hoping that we'd be able to make it to the trial in the morning. 

Thankfully, there was minimal snow when we got up and the roads were clear, so we made it to the trial with no trouble. 

Rye is in Level 1, having only done two searches during the Halloween trial, so she was up first. In Level 1, you have two minutes with several identical boxes and the dog searches for either birch or cypress. The last time Rye was at this location, we were in a barn hunt trial and she was in rat hunting mood when we walked in for our first search. There's a divider that separates the barn hunt area from the scent area and Rye spent the first several seconds running along the divider to see how she could get to the rats (who were actually snuggled up in their nice warm cages in a different area of the building). Eventually, she alerted on the box and got her second Level 1 Q.

I thought we'd have more luck with our second search since she knew what we were there for, but she was even more excited for the second search. She ran along the divider again and eventually realized she needed to be by the boxes. She alerted on one and I called it--but it was wrong. In C-WAGS, you get one fault, such as a false alert, so we moved on. Rye's alert is to lie down by the odor, but after her false alert, she flopped down directly in between two boxes. I walked her around again and she flopped down a little closer to one of the two boxes, so I called it, but it wasn't right, either, so we didn't qualify.

Barley is in Level 3, so we had about 2 hours before her searches while the Level 2 dogs ran and the judges ate lunch. Another thing we love about our friend's facility is that it's around the corner from one of our favorite parks, so we went to get a quick walk in while the weather was still ok.

Rye was not crazy about the walk. When the world is covered in snow, we have to start all over with getting her comfortable on trails. There were also several groups of people out walking and she gets very nervous when she can hear people on trails but not see them, so between dealing with people and trails that looked a little different than the last time we were there, she was one nervous puppy. 

We got back in plenty of time for Barley's searches. I was a little nervous because we'd only done one Level 3 search before this and it hadn't gone well. In Level 3 C-WAGS searches, you have four minutes to find three hides that can be in boxes or other containers as well as on object; they can also be closer together than in Level 1 or Level 2 or elevated and you can have birch, cypress, clove, and anise hides. I've been trying to be patient and watch Barley carefully because her alert is so subtle (unlike Rye who does nothing subtly). Unfortunately, we had two false alerts on both searches and walked away without any ribbons.

On Sunday, Mother Nature almost kept us away. Not because the roads were bad--they were mostly clear with just a few icky patches where plows had trouble keeping up with drifting snow--but because all of the snow we'd gotten on Saturday after we'd gotten home had drifted behind my car! I'd shoveled before going to bed on Saturday night, but on Sunday morning, the snow behind my car was up to my knees while there were blades of grass poking out of the snow covering the yard. 

Thankfully, I woke up early enough that we still made it to the trial about 10 minutes before the first Level 1 searches began. Rye hadn't wanted to eat on Sunday morning, so I had low expectations for the searches. In her first search, she was trying to work, but kept stopping and stretching and it was clear she was a little uncomfortable. She eventually alerted correctly after a minute and 19 seconds, so we did get our third Level 1 Q. She was still off her game in the second search and we walked away with two false alerts. But for her second C-WAGS trial, and third scent trial ever, I think she did a great job for the weekend.

There were a lot of Level 1 and Level 2 dogs who weren't able to get out of their driveways, so Barley's Level 3 searches were going to happen earlier than the day before. It was also in the teens with a lot of snow on the ground, so I didn't think it was worth it to go to the park for such a short amount of time in such cold temperatures. 

I was worried about Barley's searches after she'd spent so much time cooped up without a walk, but that girl amazed me. Up until this point, we'd only had 2 clean runs with no false alerts. That made finding all three odors seem almost impossible, but we took our time and she found all three odors with no false alerts in a minute and 32 seconds. For the second search, we walked in and she found the first odor and I reached into my pocket to get her treat--and realized too late that I'd forgotten to take my gloves off when we came inside and several treats fell on the ground! Dropping food is a fault, so we'd used our fault after finding the first odor. I took a deep breath and we went back to searching after Barley had gobbled up the extra treats. My best girl worked hard and found the other two odors with no faults, so we got our second Level 3 Q in 3 minutes and 23 seconds. 

The girls both had a great time and it was nice being out of the house despite the weather. Our friend hasn't announced the dates for their next C-WAGS trial yet, but we'll definitely be there since Rye is one Q away from her Level 1 title and Barley is 2 Qs away from her Level 3 title.

We are scheduled for our second AKC trial next month, so we still have plenty of sniffing practice to do while we wait for the next C-WAGS trial to be announced.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

When the first couple weeks of the year passed without any of the blogs I follow posting about the 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge, I felt a sense of relief. 2018 was a strange year for our blog (and life in general) and I didn't really want to look back at it--but I knew that if there was a Pet Blogger Challenge this year, I would do it. Then all of the sudden, a few blogs posted their responses to Go Pet Friendly's 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. Before clicking on their posts, I told myself I'd just read their posts and I wouldn't do one myself. But here I am. As always, Amy's questions for the challenge get me to reflect on my writing for the last year and make me feel better about the blog no matter what's happened during the previous year.

For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?
Our first blog post was in July 2012. The main focus of the blog has always been my reactive, rescued border collie mix Barley and our training journey as well as our explorations of trails and breweries. In 2016, I added another rescue dog, a border beagle named Rye. My firstborn, my cat Soth, also makes appearances on the blog.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018?
2018 was a slow blogging year for me, but one of the proudest moments was when I achieved my 1050th mile with the dogs during the year--of course, we cut things close and didn't achieve that until December 31, so the actual blog post didn't happen until this year, but our resolution walking goals have been a part of our blog since 2013, so achieving that goal and sharing that with our readers felt really good. 

What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it?
The biggest challenge this year was just finding time to blog. Rye started competing in agility trials in March. Barley continued scentwork. Then Rye started scentwork. Then Barley started competing in agility trials. And somewhere in between all of that Rye started barn hunt. Most of my writing time turned into training and trialing time--and that probably isn't going to change. In the summer when I'm off of work for a few months, I'll have more time to write during the week, but I think that's probably a challenge I'm just going to have to accept and not "tackle." Honestly, I'm having so much fun having these experiences with the dogs that if I don't get to write about them all, I'm ok with that.

Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why? 
My favorites are always the love letters I write to the pets on their adoption days or birthdays. This year, my very favorite was Rye's because I put a little different spin on it when I wrote a letter to her first family. There were a couple others that were close to being my favorites, though: Soth's adoption day love letter was special to me because a couple years ago, I wasn't sure how many more we'd have and now he's doing so well; Barley's love letter was hard to write and I wasn't satisfied with it, but the next month, I found the words I hadn't found then. 

Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?
My most popular was the 8th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge post--which is obviously because of the great community that comes together at this time of year to support each other!  After that, though, it's a tie between Training Mantras to Keep Training Positive and Fun and The Vanilla Ice Method of Dealing with Training Frustration. Besides the fact that they were part of a blog hop, I think these were also popular because this is really the heart of what our blog has been about since day one: working through training struggles, celebrating training successes, and finding the humor in that process. Those are the posts and the adoption day posts are the ones that I feel like my writing style and our personality really come through the clearest.

Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you're enjoying?
Sort of. Agility has always been a part of the blog, but I never really thought I'd ever compete in life before Rye, so our posts on agility trials have taken old content in a new direction. For the most part, though, 2018 has been more of a return to wear we started: focusing on a training and tracking progress towards our goals. I've shifted more to writing for me than to writing for an audience.

As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers?
This one's easy. I haven't. I hated trying to keep up with our Facebook page, so I shut it down. I use Twitter exclusively for tweeting the Pirates announcers on Pup Nights during baseball season (that platform just got too chaotic for me). Occasionally, I'll mention a blog post in an Instagram caption and find new readers that way, but I have put minimal effort into promoting the blog at all over the last year.

Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?
I want to get back to focusing on where we started. I want to document our training and our adventures. I want to write stories to remind myself of all of these moments we have together because time goes so quickly (especially when you're on an agility course with a Rye running over 5.5 yards per second). Being able to look back at old posts and remember specific adventures and training successes is what I love most about writing this blog (in addition to the fantastic bloggers we've connected with in the process), so that's where my focus is for 2019.

What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?
I'm breaking out the Doggin' Cleveland book to look for a few new trails to try this year. We've also got a pretty big road trip planned for later this year, so I plan to document every mile of that adventure. We've also got a full schedule of agility, scent trials, and barn hunt for the year, so I think we'll have plenty of new content to achieve that goal.

Now it's your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you'd like input on? 
Right now, I'm just trying to stay motivated to keep writing--but if there are certain topics in our lives that people want to know more about or certain questions about our training and competitions, I'm happy to focus some future posts on those areas.

Be sure to check out all of the blogs participating in the 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. The Pet Blogging community is such a supportive, positive community, and I always find new blogs to add to my reading list. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Expect the Unexpected

Earlier this month, I took Barley to her first ever agility trial and she surprised me by being focused and sticking with me the whole time. She didn't pay any attention to the other people or the other dogs. So, when we went to our second trial the next week, I was feeling pretty confident.

Barley's been running Excellent/Master level courses in class for years, so I knew she could handle a Novice course, especially since her first time was so smooth.

Barley was excited to be back at the trial site, so I was pretty sure that she'd be even faster on the course than she was the week before.

Things worked out perfectly for us, and once again we were the last dog of both classes, so I didn't have to worry about anyone coming onto the course before I'd gotten ahold of her collar. We walked up to the start line for our Standard course and even though Barley has a start-line stay, I always start with her because that makes her go faster.

We started out well. She took the first three obstacles and then she went wild. She ran past the teeter and I could tell that she was about to lose her mind. Just because she's 9 doesn't mean that she doesn't still get the zoomies sometimes. I had to break out her middle name to get her attention! Thankfully, she didn't take any other obstacles during that moment, I got her back, and she did the teeter.  Then she skipped the weaves--which are pass/fail in Novice, so we didn't get a fault for that. We got back on track for the next three obstacles and we had a nice line of jumps after the table. Then she skipped the first jump, but came back to me right before taking another jump and we just got a second refusal. Luckily, in Novice, you can have two refusals and still qualify, so we got our second leg towards our Novice Standard title.

The Jumpers course was up next and it was a beautiful little course with a couple spots that would be perfect for a blind cross, which is Barley's favorite cue, and I was sure that she had gotten the crazy out on the first course. This one was better, but she was still a little crazy. She needed a little more support than I thought to get the jump before the weaves and I didn't get the blind I needed and I was not on the side of the weaves I wanted to be on, so when she ran past the weaves, it actually gave me a chance to reset myself! I was holding my breath, though, because she came thisclose to taking an off-course jump and turned at the last second. In Novice Jumpers, you can have two refusals, but you can't have any wrong courses, so we got lucky! We got our second Q of the day and our second leg towards are Novice Jumpers title.

I did not expect Barley to be a little crazy on the courses. She hadn't done that in years, and I'd expected it for her first trial, but when it didn't happen, I was sure the Novice courses would be a breeze! With Rye, I've gotten used to expecting the unexpected, but Barley is my steady, predictable dog!

Rye also had a good weekend, earning her first to Master Jumpers Qs and 29 MACH points. We're still waiting on that elusive first Excellent Standard Q.

Barley had a similar moment of something unexpected happening this week. On Friday, I put Rye in her crate and Barley was so excited when she realized that she was coming with me. She thought for sure that she was getting an adventure.

Until we pulled into the vet's parking lot.

It was time for her annual checkup and vaccinations. Barley has been poked and prodded at pretty much every visit (this is what happens when you get Lyme Disease and poison yourself multiple times and need to have regular bloodwork to make sure everything's working normally), so she does not love the vet. She's my best girl, though, and the entire office gushed about how well behaved she is and said she was the easiest patient they have to examine (note: they have never said this about Rye).

Unfortunately, Barley has another fractured pre-molar that has to be removed, so this was another visit that involved bloodwork so we can make sure everything's ok before she has that surgery on the 5th.

Even though Barley was cooperative, I knew that was not the adventure she thought she was getting when we left the house without Rye. Our old neighborhood was decorated for Winterfest, though, so we stopped for a walk on our old path on the way home so that Barley could still have a bit of an adventure.

The Winterfest snowmen are one of the things I miss most about our old neighborhood. Our new neighborhood is pretty perfect--and there are some pretty great Christmas decorations in December--but our old neighborhood celebrated everything and I miss that. Barley was so excited to be walking on our old route, so I think I made up for the brief unexpected moment of visiting the vet. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

2018 Resolution Recap: A Family Affair

For the last 6 years, we've set goals for our mileage each year. For 2018, our goal was 1050 miles and Barley had to be along for at least 850 miles. I thought that would help me give Rye a little more solo time and give Barley a chance to relax a little because she is 9 and walks are a little slower than they were 6 years ago.

2018 started out rough with a lot of snow and extremely cold temperatures. We managed to get 61.74 miles in January and 63.45 miles in February, but we were not making much of a dent in our mileage. In March, Rye and I started agility trials and March and April were abysmal months for walking because we had several weekends occupied by trials. Eventually, I figured out ways to get walks in between runs so that Rye and I could earn some mileage, but for the first third of the year, we dug a deep hole that was hard to climb out of to meet our goal.

By December, we were at 917.04 miles total, so we needed132.96 miles to meet our goal. Barley had 775.99 miles. I felt confident that Barley could get the 74.01 miles we needed to meet her goal for the year, but we needed an additional 58.95 miles to meet the total goal for the year. We needed to get 4.29 miles per day every day in December to meet our goal.

We walked a lot in the first couple weeks of December. It didn't matter if it was cold, wet, windy, or any other kind of miserable conditions. We were out there.

One day, we were walking in a cold drizzle and I was trying to convince Barley that she did want to walk. I was trying to convince myself that I wanted to walk. Rye had to poop and was walking like she was a feral animal attached to leash for the first time. We looked up and saw a man with a camera--who ended up being the photographer from the local paper who was taking pictures for their photo section. Thankfully, none of us looked as miserable when the photo was published as we felt when it was taken!

By the time we got to my parents' house on December 18, we had 984.35 miles--and still needed 65.65 miles with only 13 days to get them. 

Y'all. My family was amazing. My mom entertained Barley while I took Rye for some solo walks in their neighborhood. Both of my parents took us to trails where we could get walks without the interference of neighborhood dogs that roam their neighborhood.

My parents, especially my mom, didn't complain about joining our "boot camp" and walking every day until our legs felt like they might fall off.

Rye was so happy to be reunited with me after I left her with her grandma while I ran in for a potty break.

My sister was also fantastic. She had to log some miles for her half marathon training plan, so she went to various trails with us on several occasions and ran while we walked.

Rye thought running with Aunt L sounded a lot more fun than walking.

Despite several very rainy days, we got out every single day (most days, twice a day). One day, there had been so much rain that the trail around the lake had flooded. This flushed an armadillo out of its home and up along the trail, which Rye and I found equally exciting. Rye also loved splashing through puddles on the trail where there were several inches of water over the trail (Barley did her best to find the high ground and tip toe through the puddles).

On December 31, my parents, my sister, and my brother and sister-in-law, all headed out to a trail with us to finish out our goal with a 2.8 mile walk. 

We got in 66.87 miles in 13 days and finished the year with 1051.22 miles for the year and Barley was along for 895.19 of those miles.

It was nerve racking and exhausting and for the first time in years, I really didn't have any confidence that we'd make our goal. Without the support of my family, we definitely would not have made it this year.

I spent several days thinking about our 2019 goal. We missed 30 days of walking in 2018 due to weather, agility trials, injury/illness, and life in general. 2019 is only going to be more hectic now that both dogs are competing in scent work and agility and Rye's competing in barn hunt. Barley's also 9 now, and she does get tired more quickly than she used to. I didn't want to set us up to fail. I also didn't want to choose a goal that was so low that we'd become complacent. Walking has been a huge part of lives and I didn't want to lose that.

For 2019, our goal is to walk 1025 miles--and that can be made up of any combination of dogs, either solo walks with Barley or Rye or family walk, as long as I'm walking with one of my two dogs, the miles count. That averages out to about 2.8 miles per day. Right now, our goal is just to walk every day--whether that's half a mile or 5 miles; we're taking whatever miles Mother Nature will let us have right now and once spring arrives, we'll focus on actually meeting the daily mileage goals. Hopefully, a slightly smaller goal will keep us from having to walk 134+ miles in December while still getting us up off the couch most days.

Friday, January 11, 2019

There's No Q Like a Res-Q

November and December were busy months, especially for Rye! We had five weekends in a row where she had some sort of activity on our social calendar.

My favorite moment was our adoption weekend agility trial. We usually don't do three days of agility, but I figured there was no better way to celebrate two years together than with a full weekend of Rye's favorite thing. I'd ordered a couple new rescue agility shirts for the weekend and saved my "There's No Q Like a Res-Q" shirt for our actual adoption anniversary.

That Friday, we only ran one course--the FAST course--because they were only offering Excellent/Master classes for everything else and we were only in Excellent for Standard. Doing FAST seemed like a fun warm up for the weekend even though we NQ'd. On Saturday, we were entered in Standard and Jumpers and we had some fabulous runs, but NQ'd on both courses. We got to take some fun pictures with the Christmas decorations they were putting up during the trial. 

And on Sunday, our adoptionversary, we got the Q we needed in Jumpers to get our Open title and move up to Excellent Jumpers. 

We had to make sure that Rye's BFF the cat was in the picture.

The next weekend, we were entered in one day of a Barn Hunt trial. It was our first Barn Hunt trial. I went into the trial feeling pretty confident. We'd done a run-thru the Monday before and Rye was on fire. We'd done three runs and in the last one, she'd found the rat, done her climb, and gone through the tunnel in 25 seconds. We started with the Instinct course where they have three tubes in this tray; one is empty, one has litter, and one has a rat and the dog has to identify the rat tube. We hadn't done much training with instinct in the past, and I think Rye was just confused. She kept wanting to search in the hay instead of paying any attention to the tubes, so I called "Rat" on the only tube she really paid attention to and it wasn't right. We also NQ'd on our first round of Novice because we just ran out of time. She was one bale away from the tube, so if we'd had another 10 seconds, she would have found it. In our second Novice run, she climbed, tunneled, and alerted on the rat in 1 minute and 9 seconds, which was fast enough to earn 4th place.

We were back on the agility course the next weekend. Rye had some really nice runs and we walked away with our first Excellent Jumpers Q. (We moved up to Excellent on the Standard courses in late October and we're still waiting on our first Excellent Standard Q!) There was a professional photographer from Columbus Sports Photography Network at the trial and we were able to purchase some photos from him. I was torn between purchasing the really good photos and the ones that made me laugh really hard, so I decided not to choose. 

Rye does NOT like stopping on the table and she's very vocal about it.

We followed that weekend with another weekend of agility with one day of birthday fun for Barley in between. We had some good standard runs, but still NQ'd on both courses. On Friday, we got our second Excellent Jumpers Q.

On Sunday, we started with FAST. There are only really three ways to NQ in a FAST course: fail to get the send bonus, fail to get enough points, or start with the finish jump. We needed 2 more Qs to move up to Excellent Fast and we'd been struggling to get them because we kept getting sends with an A-Frame in them and Rye has been inconsistent in getting her contacts, especially when I'm far away from her. We finally got a jump-tunnel send and I was confident in my plan for getting it. I set Rye up for the first jump and she went rogue and took the finish jump first. I think we had the shortest FAST run of the weekend. We ended up getting our third Excellent Jumpers Q and now we're competing at the Master level. Our third Q wasn't exactly pretty--and I definitely squealed a couple times when Rye thought about off course obstacles--but it was effective!

It took us 5 1/2 months to move up from Open to Excellent and two weekends to move up from Excellent to Master!  To get our next title, the Master Excellent Jumpers title, we'll need 10 Qs--but the Master level courses are exactly the same courses that we've been running for Excellent, so I'm really excited to see how this goes. We'll also be collecting points towards our Master Agility Champion (MACH) title, which needs 750 points and 20 Double Q's (or qualifying scores on Jumpers and Standard courses on the same day). You get 1 point for each full second under standard course time. We won't be able to collect any QQ's until we move up to Master for Standard, too, though. It's crazy to me how fast this little girl has caught on to this sport. We really feel like a team now and I'm having so much fun with her (although I still love the zen of running with Barley). 

Our fifth weekend of sports was a weekend of AKC Scent Trials for both dogs. We took a nice two week break to relax and enjoy time with family, but we're looking forward to a full calendar for the next few months. We've only got one free weekend between now and the end of March and we wouldn't want it any other way.