And….we’re back!

Have you ever looked at the calendar in July and realized it’s already October?  Well, maybe not, but that’s how fast our summer blazed by.  Quite literally.  This girl is not a fan of 100 degree temps and is glad to welcome hats, jackets and hot cocoa weather.

So.  Without further ado…gratuitous puppy shot!  Oh wait, he’s not really a puppy, anymore.  Okay, <ahem> gratuitous Dogwalk shot!  Oh, dogwalk, how do my Merlies love thee?

DesMan or SuperMan? You decide.

If that didn’t give it away, I’ll be blunt…  Desmond is following his older brother’s paw prints and is learning running contacts.  While Des is not a big boy in the doggy world, he’s a lot bigger than Dunc, and strides like he expects to go into flight.  But since I enjoy a challenge (and banging my head against hard objects) I decided to give running contacts with Des a shot.  Holy guacamole, Batman, this kid’s got wings!

4.5 months in the making…in the spirit of “dude, pics or it didn’t happen“, here you go:

Look mama, no feet!

Today was a banner day.  We’ve spent the last two weeks learning how to glue rubber onto a dogwalk.  It involved several days of sanding (belt sanders are tools sent straight from hell), and then several more days of gluing.  My fingers may never be the same again since a combo of sandpaper and glue has removed my fingerprints, but we debuted the finished dogwalk today.  (and maybe my life of crime??)  First time with slats, first time with rubber, and first time at 33″.  This is what Des thought of his newly improved contact:

I think that’s a big “Whoo Hoo” from the DesMonster.

 

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MACH Duncan!

MACH Dunkie!
Photo by Randy Gaines

On July 8th, Duncan finished his MACH AKC Agility Champion title in Farmington Utah. It’s taken me a little while to attempt to find the words to describe how special this journey has been with my amazing little boy.

Here is our MACH run…I can remember every step of it.

Duncan is a sweet little soul and was often shy and tentative especially early in our agility career.   If not for the kindness and camaraderie of my agility friends (especially sharing their Trial from Hell stories) I doubt we would have made it past our first out of town AKC trial.  But persevere we did.   Dunc learned to trust that I’d keep him safe, and in turn, he’d put on his Brave Pants and fly around the ring, rocking five states worth of dogwalks along the way.

Running a dog like Dunc is never boring, and is usually comprised of one part foretelling the future, one part randomly changing motivation, and one part rolling with whatever he dishes out.  But that’s the magic of Dunkie…have patience, hang in there, make sure your shoes are tied on, and a brilliant little boy often emerges.   I wouldn’t have had it any other way, and am grateful for all the lessons my Super D has taught me.

With judge Tim Pinneri, Photo By Randy Gaines

When the Canine Partners program allowed us to play in 2010, we were off and running!  He earned his first QQ at our fifth trial, and he finished his MACH 16 months later.  All but six of our 750 speed points were earned without multipliers.  At first, they came a few at a time, but as our confidence grew with each other, we really began to rack them up.

Dunc brought me into the world of agility.  He forgave me while I was learning how to handle, and gamely tried anything new I threw at him.   He grinned at me while I laughed at his antics, and he’d curl up in my lap and sigh as if to say “it’s going to be okay” when the going got tough. We traveled with friends, we traveled alone, he stealthily robbed many pockets of their cookies…but through it all, Duncan has been my unwavering little buddy…my co-pilot and sharer of pillows and ice cream.

Duncan has taught me so much about love and patience, perseverance and trust.  He showed me time and time again that to get to our destination, we needed to enjoy the journey – to find the joy on each and every run.  And so, standing at the gate before our MACH run, I wasn’t going over the course in my head – – I was whispering in Dunc’s ear:  “If you run like I know you can, you get to run the dogwalk again!”  He did, so we did!

This is what Duncan’s MACH means to me:  It’s a written record, a testament of the time and effort, the faith and trust that it took to get us here…and the honor I feel to call this fantastic, smart and funny little boy my teammate.   I treasure memories of each run along the way – from the wavering to the solid, to the speedy and spectacular.

I always believed in you, Duncan.  Thank you for believing in me, too.

The DesMan At Work

Des and I began Sylvia Trkman’s Agility Foundation course last month.  It’s been a good experience so far, albeit at a pace I’d describe as slightly faster than frenetic.  Part of my lack of posting lately is because I come home from my job and then go to work.  Des and I will go through a skill, then I’ll edit video and catch up on course reading.  Somewhere in there, Dunc and I try to stir up a little dust in the field, and then I spend some time reminding the rest of my family what I look like!  Thank goodness my husband understands time-consuming hobbies.  (By the way, Sweetie, I think the mail guy kicked another 70 lb block of lead out in our driveway…)

Until recently, Des had never done more than three obstacles in a row.  I’ve spent most of our time working mainly on foundation and focus, just with me.  I haven’t shared a lot of Des video to date mainly because I wanted to allow him the time to find his feet, to help him decide if chasing around a field of obstacles was his idea of fun.  This short sequence was part of our current lesson.  I think my boy may have found his feet!

Snow, Sunshine and Dog Toys…it Must Be Spring!

It’s spring in Idaho.  Just two days ago, the wind blew snow sideways most of the day.  It didn’t stick to the ground, or the trees, or the roads…just the side of my face while I was walking Des.  He didn’t mind until the wind filled his ears with icy, white flakes. (Hey, when you have ears that look like satellite dishes…)  And now, two days later…

It’s the other kind of spring!

Just a boy, some newly green grass and a fuzzy-tailed squeaky ball.  After grabbing the toy, lighting up the afterburners and taking a dozen hot laps around the yard, he flopped down to enjoy his prize.

Duncan, in the meantime, did his best superhero pose.  Part-time agility star, full-time protector of the yard, defender of our flock of quail from prowling cats, and our UPS guy alarm system.  Little dog, big heart.  As it turns out, perhaps quite literally.

Later, Des got to play with a friend.  They compared baby brother notes and found they have a lot in common.  I fear we may endure some back seat hijinks later this summer if they get to ride next to each other.  Watch out varsity, the JV squad is pretty cute, too!

What a lovely afternoon…the Merlies and I are awfully happy to share the day with our Boston friends!  Next stop…Reno!!!