The Flying Aussie and a Great Cause

Pretty, but don’t touch!

This past weekend, Duncan and I traded the sleeting skies of Idaho for the sunny ones of Arizona to run at a trial and visit a dear friend.  The timing was perfect.  You see, just like my Boxer, I’m convinced that when it rains, I’ll melt (although I don’t claim to be made of sugar like he does).  So after one of the driest winters on record, the day we left, the skies had opened and we got out of town.  The difference this time, is that we flew to this trial, a first for both of us.

It’s a good thing that airport security doesn’t screen for high pulse rates, because I was so nervous to get everything right, that I was amazed I didn’t keel over right there in line after throwing my shoes in the plastic bin.  Many, many thanks to the website Dog Jaunt for all the fantastic information on flying with a small dog, and my husband for getting me through check in.  I knew my carrier (a large SturdiBag) would fit perfectly on a Southwest 737, and indeed, it did.  Dunc was a fantastic little traveler, and fit in his little bag just fine thanks to his ability to bend like a wet noodle.

Dunc under the airplane seat.

The trial was fantastic.  Duncan, amazing Duncan most definitely got his brave on.  In a completely new place on weird footing (some sort of tentacle-like dormant grass) after being stuffed in a bag and going up and down until his ears popped, he came out swinging, and ran two of his fastest runs, ever.  He also earned his very first QQQ.  Rock on little man!

This is quite possibly the coolest chute ever invented.  Not only is it covered in flames that Duncan’s Wildfire blazed through, but it’s wonderfully, perfectly, terrifically, and shockingly SHORT!  The new shorter chute length is a winner in Dunc’s book.

Here’s Dunc’s run on the Saturday Standard course…another diabolical creation courtesy of judge Dan Butcher.  Love these technically challenging courses, and after three trials this year under this judge, we’re drifting dangerously close to being DB groupies.

This trial was part of a large group of dog sporting events held at the Paws for a Cure event, a fundraiser for the Canine Cancer foundation.  This foundation is near and dear to my heart, since we lost our first beloved boy Boxer, Sinjin to cancer, and Angus is a survivor. My trialling partner in crime runs a Boston who is also a survivor, so we made sure to visit the Foundation booth, where I made a memorial heart for Sinjin.

Sinjin, my old soul and beloved friend.

On Sunday, they stopped the trial, and smack in the middle of the rings, the Foundation held a ceremony to celebrate those buddies we’ve lost to this disease.  They read the Rainbow Bridge poem, and one of the foundation’s founders asked me to place Sinjin’s heart on the wall first, quickly followed by dozens of other hearts.  It was an amazing moment, standing there, tears streaming down my face, in a crowd of people doing the same.  Not one person there was ashamed of crying visibly for friends we had lost, and I had one of those beautifully clear life moments.  These are my people, and I’m so proud and thankful to have been among them on this special day.

The Canine Cancer Foundation Memorial Wall

Sweet Sinjin. You are missed.

Of course, trialling is also about being with friends, new and old, fuzzy and non-fuzzy.  Dunc was thrilled to have a weekend away from Baby Brother Des, and reveled in the company of one of his favorite people friends and dog friend.   Sweet Mully even ran with me on the FAST course, and thankfully, we upheld her amazing QQQ streak.  (Whew!)

We are cute. Feed us. Now.

All in all, the weekend was a blast.  Lovely weather, fantastic company (thanks, G!!) and running with the best and sweetest teammate a girl could ask for.  A Ferrari dealer on the way to the trial grounds was just a bonus…after all, I do love a parking lot filled with sexy Italians.

Parting thought…maybe this kid really knows how to have a blast...

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The 2012 Adventures Begin

Des 5 months, Dunc 4 years

Baby Desmond is now five months old.  He now tips the scales at 14.4 pounds, a gain of about three pounds over the last month.  As in previous months, most of that gain has been in legs.  One of these days I hope his legs will slow down, or I’m going to have a baby merle giraffe on my hands.  He does put those wheels to good use while doing hot laps around the yard.

Wheeeee!

He is most definitely a handsome little dude, a whirlwind of flying ears, waving paws, and endless wiggles.  We’re currently working on things that he finds extraordinarily boring, yet gamely humors me; sit stays, sitting by an open door before being released to imitate a Dakar rally car in the yard, and only jumping shoulder-high by invitation.  (This last one is just too tough, I often find yodeling Des bouncing alongside while I’m filling the dinner dishes.  This wouldn’t be odd, except that I’m standing upright, and he’s clearing the height of the countertops).

Duncan, on the other hand, is about to begin a new year of trialling, and it’s looking to be momentous.  We have a few trials to warm up for Nationals in March, which will be a fantastic experience.  We’re working on improving his running contacts, and my challenge is learning to get him around the course in a way that keeps him off his brakes and driving forward.

Duncan, I am thankful to you for your sunny grin, and for helping me find a better and more positive way to get there with you.  Let’s rock the house this year!

My view while freestyle heeling with Dunc. A big grin!

Lets get this show on the road!  The drive to our first trial of the year is easy, however the commute is waaaay different!  Stay tuned…

Leavin' on a jet plane...

A Quest to…Reno?

Last winter, we found out that AKC Agility Nationals would be held in Reno, NV in March of 2012.  Since it’s less than ten hours away, it qualified as a local trial, and Dunc and I set our sights on earning enough points to go.

At the time, we had three Double Q’s and about 50 speed points, (after becoming eligible in March) so I thought it would be easy.  We would need six QQ’s and 400 points total to attend.  A few short months later, the multipliers went away, meaning we needed to earn each and every one of our speed points…one point for every second under course time…no more double point bonuses for earning first place.  Gulp.

The traveling road show of 2011 began, and the driving, road food, yucky rest areas, noisy hotels, wonderful friends and trialling adventure is one I will never forget.  And honestly, can’t wait to repeat.

Little Dogs Rock!

Happy boy in the Palouse

We began in Moscow, Idaho.  Despite it raining nonstop on Saturday and Duncan shying away at every other bar setter, it was a lovely trial in a lovely spot.  The Palouse in the spring is an amazing sight, and I’m thankful to have had an extra day (and friends, especially friends with rain-proof tents) to enjoy it.  Thank you ML!  We added QQ # 4 here.

We spent the 4th of July weekend in Redmond.  The weather was terrific, and the setting stunning with Mt. Bachelor on the horizon.  We got a puppy fix and some tasty Lo Mein (but not at the same time because you’d end up with noodles everywhere).

Volcanoes and Tent City

At the end of August, Dunc and I zoomed up to Spokane.  How do I say this…it was hot. Damn hot.  It was in the high 90s, but Dunc and I pulled it off, running fast and accurate all three days on some courses that could only be described as diabolical.  We made some new friends (thanks V!!) and in between moments of heat-induced visions of pink elephants and herds of stampeding Bostons, we earned QQ # 6 and 7.

Lynnleigh Farms over Labor Day was our next stop; a four-day trial.  It’s such a pretty spot with the trees and mountains…and horses…and giant motorhomes rumbling by. Maybe ‘pretty’ distracting might be a better description.  It was this trial location last year, while trying to weave directly at a wall of crated Border Collies, Dunc told me that maybe his sport was chasing dust bunnies under the bed instead of agility.  This year, Dust Bunny Duncan was nowhere to be found, replaced by Awesome Duncan, who earned QQ # 8 and 9, and his Exc. FAST title.

And to add to the fun, we spared no expense to celebrate Muligan’s MACH 4 in high style.

I smell waffles...

We headed to Prineville in October.  For the first time, I saw the light at the end of the point earning tunnel…we were closing in, with 140 points to go.  It was this trial when Duncan shifted into a whole new gear, leaving me paddling madly in his wake, like an uncoordinated duck.   What an amazing sight to see, those little paws throwing out rooster tails of sand, with a crazy Aussie grin on his face!  I was honored to witness Tug’s inaugural agility run, and the beginning of another brilliant BT Rock Star’s agility career.  Dunc also earned QQ # 10 and 11.

Every Champion begins with a first run

Is anybody home?

The next trial in Farmington was Dunc and my first trip on the road by ourselves.  As orphans, we were adopted by some kind Utah friends, who helped add my points, as I seem to lose that ability when excited.  Being the agility portion of the Samoyed Nationals, there were big white dogs parked in every available corner.  I’ve never seen it snow indoors, but white fur was a-floating, and it wasn’t long before every surface of my crate was white and fuzzy. I also learned that Samoyeds bark.  A lot.  The courses were downright tough…technical and littered with traps, but after much obsessive course walking, Dunc and ran a perfect weekend and brought home QQ # 12 and 13 and 45 speed points.

Have ball...will travel!

At our home trial in October, on the last day, 16 speed points remained to hit the magic 400 points to qualify for Nationals.  We had a fantastic Standard run, fast and accurate, and I knew Dunc had done it when he sailed over the last jump.   Pause.  A moment later, from the score table I heard “No time!!”  The timers had failed to work.  Normally our choice would be to take standard course time and the Q (but with no speed points) or to rerun and risk the chance that it wouldn’t be clean.  And then the judge called to the crowd:  “Did anyone get it on video?”  YES!!  Half an hour later, with the video camera in one hand, and a stopwatch in the other…the judge confirmed that we’d sped around the course 18 seconds faster than course time, and earned our final points for Nationals. Anyone within ten feet got hugged.

Gratuitous puppy photo!

The last stop in our AKC trialling year was to east Idaho, and Desmond came along, riding like a seasoned traveler, and had a great time with his Belgian friend, despite Nick being 4X his size.  Overall, in 2011, Duncan and I earned 15 QQs and 436 speed points. It’s been one heck of a ride, and after a lot of judges, difficult courses, variable weather, fantastic friends and amazing experiences, I only have one thing to say:

Bring on 2012!