13 December 2010

The mobile dog hospital visits the dog show with Patient Ruby, Scary Nurse Otterpop and Therapy Dog Gustavo.

Ruby's been to a lot of dog shows in her life. A lot of nights in Motel 6. A lot of hours spent in her car, snoozing away the day in the crate she shares with Otterpop, on their sandy, blue dog bed. Sometimes I shake out the sand. But sometimes I don't.

I was just going to skip this weekend's USDAA show. Two whole days, I made arrangements to take off a Saturday months ago. It's always a fun dog show, up there in the North Bay, in a big covered arena next to the race track. In the town of Santa Rosa, where there's strip malls galore with Starbucks and Trader Joe's on every corner. Earlier in the week, I was pretty sure I'd skip it though, and stay home and take care of Ruby.

What Ruby prefers though, and what keeps her most calm, is to be where the other dogs are. Especially Otterpop. And now that she lets me pick her up and load her in the car, I figured, what the heck. If she seems bad, not only are there vets galore at dog agility, but I can always turn around and drive her home. Crate rest is crate rest whether it's in the car or in the house, and honestly, the car crate is more comfortable for Ruby than her crate in the house, since she is already used to spending many long hours in that car of ours, curled up with her Otterpop.

So off we went on Saturday morning. Me and my medical assistants, and the patient carefully bundled up in her bed.

Ruby did just fine. Not a peep out of her, no stress, just another weekend at a dog show, only difference being she wasn't allowed to get out and walk or play, and got drive up service to grassy spots to pee on. I think she was happy just to hang out with her dogs and not get left alone. I think you don't do this with people patients, shove them in a plastic box and make them drive 2 hours in the dark. But dogs are different, and I think this worked out just fine for Ruby.

My good dogs had their ups and downs, but overall a lot of good times, where I couldn't stop telling them how proud I was of them. Otterpop finished that elusive third SuperQ. That's been a long time coming and a big relief. We just ran fast and hard and did a lot of 7's and it worked. She got a couple gambler's Qs, and a couple standards. A steeplechase. She had some very fast startlines and fast runs, and a couple not so great. But she's improving.

She did cast her evil curse on yet another pairs partner, causing one of the most consistent teams out there to E. This is a problem. She can't finish her ADCh until we get that lost pairs Q. We are just going through every mini dog handler I know until we find someone that is immune to the curse. So maybe someday. That last Championship SuperQ was a big goal, and now that's done, I don't want to think about Performance Q's. I think she earned some metallic titles this weekend. I don't do a good job of keeping track, and I honestly don't care that much. I just want her to run her fastest and bark at me when she blasts off the startline. Far better than counting up a stack of Q's any day.

The one thing I'm keeping track of are her gambles. I love it that we went from NO MASTERS GAMBLES to now having gotten 9 in a row. I have a special post-it somewhere that I write these down on. That's my fancy title tracking database.

Gustavo stayed on the table long enough to earn his final advanced standard leg, making him all masters, all the time now. What a relief. He was all about good listening, good contacts, and no dead people all weekend, but his weave poles were hit and miss. Hit, lovely, fast runs. Miss, train wrecks of weave pole refusals. But not complete meltdowns, just repeated attempts, then in. So I guess that's an improvement. Only one tunnel vortex the whole weekend, at the very end of an otherwise lovely, fast and clean Grand Prix run. But I was able to devortex him and get him on the dogwalk where he belonged. Sometimes the only way out of the vortex is to capture him and excuse ourselves from the ring. So I consider this success!

I think that I'm doing better not panicking when he's moving at light speed. Instead of running on the defensive, I'm trying to get in there and set his lines and just run him like we know what we're doing. We have a long ways to go. And we need to fix the poles. And make that dogwalk contact stronger. And have tables. But it's getting much better. I even decided he gets his own dog agility leash and ordered one from the lady that macrames them out of nylon rope. Now he's a REAL agility dog.

Ruby saw a lot of the inside of the crate. The inside of Motel 6 from the inside of the crate. The inside of the car from the inside of the crate. This is all she gets to see, except when I gently lift her out and let her limp around on the grass for a minute. But she was in good spirits, and always had a smile on her face. Otterpop would do a run, then climb in there with her and tell her how she used her good impulse control and did not stink eye or bark at a single judge. Or else totally lied to her and said she ate them both. Who knows what they talk about in there. I am very hopeful that Ruby's leg will one day soon be fine, and she can go back to being my very best forest walking dog. And maybe do occasional teeter totters.

I love going to both days of trials. I am going to work on doing this more in the future. The bummer of two days, I lose money to miss work, and pay more money to enter the trial. I entered limited classes this weekend and that helps a bit. One of those quanadries that makes the world go round. Thanks, all my friends, who watched my runs and had stellar advice on improving my handling and posture and snookers plans. I rewarded all of your efforts by remembering to wear my fake front tooth all weekend. We hope to have another fun dog agility weekend someday soon, this time with Ruby playing frisbee in the mud before the ride home too.


kiwichick said...

Big congrats on the Super Q and for Gustavo being in Masters :-) Hope Ruby mends fast too.

Elf said...

Congrats again on all the successes for the weekend. Ruby and her good friend otterpop made me cry this morning, it's so beautiful. Not many dogs have relationships that special (none of mine have), and even fewer people! Time to go blow my nose now.

Amanda said...

Wow, sounds like a pretty great weekend! Ruby got to hang with her Otterpop, Otterpop got her SuperQ, and Gooey got out of Advanced! Happy arms all around! \0/

Alaska said...

Congratulations on a great weekend!

Hey, I was perusing Sylvia Trkman's new and old websites in search of inspiration and saw something that made me think of you. First off, check out her new trick training video - not your grandmother's trick training, no indeed. But what really made me think of you (Gustavo, actually) was an article in the training section of her old site (http://www.silvia.trkman.net/) called "FearShep?" Scroll all the way down to find it, if you haven't already. Might be useful if the dead people should ever happen to show up again.

Plus, the trick training video. Who needs agility when your dogs can do "shoe walking"?

team small dog said...

Otterpop loves to make people cry. Her special relationship with Ruby verges on the creepy and weird all the time, so don't get too weepy on it.

Yes-I love Sylvia's new trick video. She is amazing. If I was a better champion I'd be working diligently on all those tricks instead of sitting around thinking how cool it would be to be Sylvia Trkman. I have read the FearShep article too and I totally agree. If I could build that laser like focus and drive, we would always be happy agility campers. It's the meta issue I know for me, with everything with all of my dogs. It is a large meta issue. We chip away at it.

Someone yesterday was giving me this cosmic zen analogy about a sculptor hitting her block of granite 1000 times with a mallet before making the first chip of stone to begin the sculpture. Those first 999 hits can be very frustrating, but necessary to loosen the stone for the 1000th hit which frees the stone. I think I was supposed to be all uplifted and all but it mostly made me want to go bang my head against a rock.

Elf said...

We visited this mine shaft in southern california. As I recall the story, a couple of brothers dug relentlessly hundreds of feet into the mountain for a very long time and finally went broke (or got bored, or killed each other, not sure which). And someone who came along later and dug another couple of feet ran into the mother lode.

Of course the problem with that story is the same as buying lottery tickets: If I stop buying them, maybe the next one will be the mother lode! Or the sculptor one: You have to know which chips are the ones that will make the sculpture. If you keep hacking away at it without necessarily knowing exactly what you need, pretty soon you'll just have gravel.

And that's my cynical, dang-I-have-a-cold-and-I-feel-crappy, attitude for this morning.