For those that are not particularly interested in dog agility "stuff" you are welcome to skip this post entirely because well, that has been my focus this past week or so with the addition of a few first camping trip of the season things. Ohhhh where to start!
I was super glad that I took an additional day off pre-trip because as usual on Wednesday (took of Thurs and Fri) afternoon as I brought the truck to town in order to get gas and go to an appointment, the check engine light went on. Doesn't that just figure! I am blessed with an awesome small mechanic shop that was able to pop the scanner on it before my appointment and as we thought - gas cap (even though I'd filled and put it back on). Apparently there is a magic number of ignition recycles required to reset it once the cap is put back on tight. Weird thing is that I'd been to Bozeman and back on that same tank of gas but as I discovered on my way home - it depends on how full the tank is as well. Will be getting another new gas cap but you cannot imagine my relief that it was simple and not going to sideline my trip with the trailer (requiring me to drive back and forth for 3 days).
Even though it was still cold on Thursday (as in it was raining and snowing) the temps were forecast to be warm so I bit the bullet and filled the water tank on the trailer and de-winterized the water systems. I actually went and bought a cheap little space heater to put up front for at least Thursday night as I knew I'd have power hook ups and could do that. Worked like a charm and kept it all warm and toasty (okay only 40 degrees but still). Loaded up the dogs late Thursday afternoon and we were off. Travel and setup all went well and everyone settled in. The oldest and most blind and deaf of the group had some adjustment time required to remember where everything is and that there is a wire "yard" outside the trailer but it wasn't too serious. As you can tell - they all settled in. That bench on the right is what I showed before as the back of the benches in the rear. Am thinking it will likely be used this way more than a back for the rear but it optionally can go either way and the littles do like having those extra beds under it to be out from under foot.
I had entered both Sterling and Epic for the weekend, 16 runs total. I was a tad worried I wouldn't be able to handle that much but fate intervened.
When we'd been practicing over the past few months both my training buddy JB and I had noticed Sterling just wasn't acting right. Always hard to remember that dogs are painfully honest and although I went into the weekend thinking maybe he just wasn't enjoying agility that much anymore and if it showed this weekend I'd just take the hint. JB kept telling me he wasn't acting like he wanted to get away from it but that he just didn't physically feel well. She is a great observer of dogs and people. When we'd started practice months ago I knew we had issues with the dog walk and that he'd lose his footing in the rear on occasion. More about that as you read on. I knew from her that one of the rehab vets from here in Helena was going to be at the trial and JB highly recommended her on many fronts. I did in the meantime take Sterling in to the chiropractor that Wednesday and had him adjusted - a first for him. When he ran his first run on Friday he seemed to be "okay" but when we got to the weaves he barely went through them. That got worse as did his jumping in the 2nd run Friday and those are the two things out of ALL things agility that he LOVES! JB introduced me to her vet and we visited and she said that she noticed even when I was just playing with him before our run that he seemed lame on the left. Then I felt REALLY bad that I'd run him.
So while I ran Epic (more on that adventure later) Dr. D took Sterling and evaluated him. She was awesome and he loved her and I love that she was very frank yet very thorough and then sat down and explained and showed me exactly what she found and what she suspected and how we should proceed. She ran me down his spine and he has a vertabrae out up mid rib area but she doesn't do adjustments (and she asked if we had a chiropractor and I said yes) and had also mentioned earlier how Epic sat so nice but Sterling kneed out. As we went down his spine sure enough it curled to the left. She also showed me how his muscles on his one side are bigger than the other and yup! Having back and hip issues myself I get these conversations and know the pain it can cause. Anyway, she did massage on him that night - a lot - and said I could ice if I could find ice and I asked frankly if I should run him anymore over the weekend and that indeed I was perfectly fine pulling him. I pulled him! She believes in addition to getting his spine all back in place that he has chronic (as in 6 months or more - I suspect longer) iliopsoas issues. (here is a link to a very good article on this and boy does he fit the profile of the activities that cause it: Iliopsoas Injuries and Prevention) The rest of the weekend I gave him Inflapotion with Herbal Aspirin (and yes I told her that and respect her even more that she totally didn't get into the pharma talk). Over the next 2 days he got some more massage, laser treatment and acupuncture (although apparently he screamed like a girl when she tried to hook up the electrodes to the needles so just plain this time). He was fine with the needles going in and all but the clip apparently was not happening - I think maybe cuz his hair is so short that maybe it pinched him. Sunday she gave us a lesson on passive stretches he is to get twice a day and then active stretches he needs to learn on his own. Check! I will also say by Sunday I saw tail wagging that I've not seen in a very very long time. With him being cured in the lower back like that - gee dummy Mom - that is why he can't get good footing on the dog walk - he isn't straight from front to back. So boy is in "rehab" for now and we'll do flatwork and no dogwalk stuff except maybe flat boards till we know he is good to go. Not a big deal and I'm going to do some retraining on contacts anyway. He will also go back for more treatments with her as well as his massages with Auntie Adele and chiro with Auntie Terri. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that we've found the issue and make him feel better. So for all that asked on FB why he ended up on the injured reserve list - there you have it. So blessed for all the wonderful friends and fellow dog peeps that keep eyes out for us! This was the only run video I have of him off my phone (think the one other mayyyy be on my pocket camera), you can tell (if you ever saw any of our ones from 2 years ago) that he is just "off".
Now on to Epic! Boy oh boy did he do well for his first ever trial and all the little glitches really were him and I getting in tune and him understanding what the heck we are doing. Lets face it we've not trained much at all and we have probably never done but one full 15 obstacle course and never without stopping. JB said she did hear from one of our respected agility peeps that he had nice weaves for a novice - okay so we never got them first time but again, he doesn't understand yet that he needs to focus on obstacles AT ALL! We have numerous videos but I'll pick a couple to share here with you. He is my "kwazy boy" but so fun to run even without focus. I only had one run where by the end when he was melting down (Saturday afternoon so we were on his 6th run of the weekend) and yelling at me did I stop and tell him so settle (he was leaping and jumping at me and then running around crazy like). Work for sure to run him but when his light bulb goes on he's gonna be a smokin' agility guy (if I don't ruin that first haha). By Sunday I knew he really was done for so last run i handed him to JB to see what happened. OMG it was too funny. He was paying attention for 2 jumps then spotted a ring steward clear across the ring, thought it was me and took off, then realized it wasn't, spun around and realized JB was calling him but wasn't sure if he really should go to her or not, spun 1/2 way back and did zoomies. He did finally come back (unlike a terrier that ran in excellent) and she ran him out of the ring and treated big time. Hey - JB is a great trainer and isn't worried about "looking bad" with a dog that isn't hers. It was also good for Epic. This was his best run of the weekend and I was the one that messed him up at the jump (as my awesome friend/mentor explained to me what I did). I don't at this point have a clue if we Qd at all or not. Truly it doesn't matter and I have now realized that I'm so stinking suggestible that if I look and see we didn't Q (even if I KNOW we didn't) it affects my next runs. So MY training goal this weekend was not looking at all at the scores for my dogs - and I didn't and it made things so much more pleasant. Proves my mantra that I'm there to enjoy running my dogs and boy did I!
The biggest bestest part of the weekend was witnessing and celebrating my friend JBs MACH on her collie! He is now a triple champion and it was a super big deal and appropriately celebrated by all with cake on Sunday, prezzies for her and just a big sigh of relief (from her). I am super proud of them! She is also the most quiet handler on the course that you will ever see and her boy responds amazingly and smoothly. She definitely racks up style points too when she runs.
The other best parts of agility weekend:
1. Running my dogs and having fun - okay less the Sterling injury but still.
2. Seeing so many friends. I've been away from competitions for 2 years now and I will not lie that the social part is fun for me too!
3. Making NEW friends (SC and Dr D)!
4. Seeing friends that weren't even entered but that drove down 3 hours from Canada to visit and go to dinner with me and another local friend that I've known now for almost 20 years!
5. Great trial venue. It is a horse arena but to their credit this is the cleanest one you will find anywhere! I cannot do any other barns or arenas where trials are held because of my allergies. My nose actually was the clearest it has been in months this weekend (moving helps but still).
6. Surviving the Great Falls enormous winds! I wasn't sure at midnight on Saturday if we would. My bed comes down a bit more than 1/2 way to the floor so you get a bit more movement. Didn't wake a one of the dogs but it did me (and it blew like the dickens all day Saturday).
7. Camping. I love my trailer more each time I use it! As my other friend M said as they pulled their trailer out - it is so nice to just roll out of bed and go in and run. For me gives me the additional time to feed everyone and all without adding a bunch of travel time. Yes we are only 90 minutes away from home but for my mornings that would add 2.5 hours to add in chores AND mean that I had dogs crated at home for 2 days for over 12 hours. No thanks!
8. My little HP computer to watch movies off of on the TV. No reception most places I stay so have ditched the antenna in the garage and now have more storage space to boot.
9. My gel mattress cover on the bed. Came off my house bed when I got my new mattress and figured I would try it and it worked really nicely.
10. Hot shower - YAY for being able to put water in the trailer! Amazing what that will do for a dirty, wind blown soul (plus then I didn't have to embarrass friends I went to dinner with - even though I was dressed like an agility slob - at least I was clean).
Probably a ton more I thought of trying to go to sleep the other night and forgot. Chalk it up to a great weekend and looking forward to our next agility in Bozeman in a few months. Meanwhile - back to training and obedience class and puppy class with Teddy and agility foundations class with Epic. No rest for the weary - as is apparent by how I felt on Monday!