Friday, October 2, 2009

all things considered

All things considered, we are all doing well.

Jinx is still with us and I am grateful for each day. She is in good spirits and happy, even though she negotiates on three legs. It took me quite a few tears to get past the grief stage of her cancer. Just the mention of her name, or someone inquiring how she was doing would set me off. I am better now. Slightly. She visits Dr. Strickfaden at Countrycare in DePere for biocom treatments every two weeks. They are so good to us there. If Jinx should take a turn for the worse and we need to get in sooner, there is a note in her chart to squeeze us in. It is acts of kindness such as this that mean so much. She gets one half a deramaxx with breakfast and chinese herbs twice a day. Not bad. At first, we let her eat what she wanted and Tom liked to treat her with Frosty Paws but at our last doctor visit I noticed she had added approximately 10 lbs! yikes! Ten pounds wouldn't be such a big deal, except that I know it puts additional stress on her good leg, so she is back on a diet. I'm trying to hide it, though, by feeding her raw meat patties with frozen vegetables and so far I think it's working. If we are going somewhere and Jinx wants to go along, she goes. It's all about keeping her happy for as long as possible. She came down to the training field during our seminar with Greg Doud and took some sleeve bites, happily carrying the sleeve all the back to her bed in the house. The following week I took her with me to disaster training in Milwaukee where she would have jumped right on the rubble pile to begin searching had I not called her! Instead, we did the bark barrel exercise and she barked with the same intensity and focus as she has always had. I can't fix her, cure her, but I can make sure whatever time she has left is good.

I took Quinn to the North Central Regional Championships in Harris, MN a couple weeks ago. He earned another SchH3 title, his 11th. 87-91-90. Quinn did not give me his best in tracking; in obedience he was at his 100%. He was correct in the exercises except for being slightly crooked in two returns. Other than that, it was primarily a case of the judge wanting to see more speed in the exercises, and Quinn simply isn't going to be faster. In protection he was one of the few dogs to actually run the blinds properly and his guarding was close and intense, barking was continuous. There were a couple bobblies in secondary control where he made the return to heel slightly ahead of heel position, and then flinched on the escape, jumping ahead prematurely. Because he had injured his leg, prompting a visit to the othopedic specialist since I am sooo gunshy now about such things, we did not train for two weeks preceeding so he wasn't as clean on those things as he would have been. His other point deduction was in slow outs. I did not have to give a second command, but he did not immediately release and lost points. I was happy to earn another SchH3 but really had hoped to at least place on the podium. It was funny, in a way, in that 5 or 10 years ago I would have been thrilled with scores in the 90's but now I want V scores! My expectations have changed. I had to do a little self evaluation, however, and really ask whether I should continue to campaign Quinn just to earn more titles? I do want to earn our FH, but knowing that he is trial wise about letting go and not going to score higher in many areas, despite our best efforts, I have to question whether pursuing schutzhund is for my ego or his benefit? Fernando Dosta was working dogs after the trial, helping Lisa Geller prepare for her MR Championship. I decided to work Quinn on him and see whether Quinn might have a new career in Mondioring. He asked Lisa, "so how old is this dog?" "7" "and he is a schutzhund dog?" "yes, 11xSchH3". Ferndando apparently thought he would give a couple leg bites and be done with my foolishness. He told me to post Quinn and he would deliver the bite and if Quinn didn't do that, well, then there was nothing more to be done. I had told him that Quinn had a foundation in suit/leg work and exposure to accessories but I'm sure he wrote that off as novice blather! I posted, he presented, and I gave Quinn his leg command and he hit that suit, pushing into the grip and turning his head properly. I think Fernando was surprised. We did have an electric collar on Quinn as I had said that if I elected to change sports, I was not going to exchange one "out" problem for another, and that from his first exposure "out" would mean "out" on the first command. Quinn remembered his down/guard position between the legs, and bite again when the leg was presented. So then Dosta directed me to send Quinn to the blind, saying he knew Quinn knew that but that he wanted to see the transport. Quinn had a tab on his collar and Dosta said I might have to hand it to him, as "many schutzhund dogs will bite the arm if I reach". I told him it I was quite certain he could take the tab but I would hand it to him if necessary. Well, it wasn't. Dosta moved out of the blind, with Quinn transported and then biting when be tried to escape. Next, Dosta directed me to send Quinn to jump the agility tunnel to a bite. I think he expected Quinn would land and then go back up to upper body, but he did not. He came in and bit the legs. We repeated that four times, with me calling Quinn back to me, over the tunnel to a tug bite. (I had forgotten my whistle!) Dosta told me that Quinn had the foundation for the work and that it would not be difficult. And that was that. I know Dosta is a world-class decoy and all that, but I really expected more props for the schutzhund dog!! haha!! At any rate, what I noticed was that I think Quinn was smiling!! He seemed so happy, and his tail was straight up in the air! That was more joy than I have seen in his schutzhund work lately, so I think we will pursue his basic MR titles. What the heck.
So the good, bad and ugly of Quinn is that we earned another title but found a new career.

Cooper and I are off to Connecticut next week, to take his Foundation Skills Assessment test. We did our pre test last week, and had some rough spots but Cooper is showing great promise. He is so agile and driven in his rubble search, and a monkey on the agility elements. I think he is further ahead than Jinx was at his age. With all those other things going on to tax me physically and mentally, things have caught up to me in the form of bronchitis. I started feeling sick when I got back from the Regionals, and hit the wall a few days later. This has set my training behind with Cooper and I hope to feel well enough to make the trip. My journal writing has taken a back seat to all the "doing". Maybe when I get back and things slow down I can get back into the regular routine of writing!