Sunday, December 30, 2007

My year in review! We're talking agility, life, fun, family, friends and blogging!

It has been a really big year for me. And I am grateful for every minute of every hour of every 365th day!

January

January 1st was my debut on Blogger. I had had a blog on my website since 2004, but folks couldn't comment and it was difficult to communicate with my Internet friends. So on January 1st of this year I officially became a Blogger-holic! And I've made some incredible friends - of all shapes and sizes, all ages, with varying numbers of legs, and from all points of the World. It has been one of the best things in my life this year - besides agility of course!

February

In January and part of February I was still recovering from my broken foot, oh, and fighting with the folks at the kennel where I got my broken foot. Finally in April their insurance company agreed to pay my medical expenses (beyond what my health insurance covered) and make a nice donation to my shelter. The whole ordeal was finally over. I recuperated with hydrotherapy, and physical therapy after I got my cast off on January 9th.

March

March was spent rehabbing and starting up with some agility practice, after being off agility since November 2006.

April

And after about two months with a cast on and four months of rehab, I was finally able to compete in my first agility trial after the accident.

The best part about that was that Mum finally knew for certain that I could do agility again. And boy did we celebrate! With a nice DQ ta boot. We had a blast that day, I'll never forget it. Gracie stayed with a friend and it was just me and Mum over in Ohio. One of the best days of both of our lives together.

About two weeks later, Gracie and I competed in the first USDAA trial of the year. It was Gracie's first trial ever and she did pretty good! One of her best trials of the year. But what I really remember most about the trial was the rain, the snow, the mud and the cold! It was snow agility!

I got a few Q's, but it was such a disastrous and comical weekend, andt we felt we probably shouldn't have even been there. Especially after my injury. I came away from that trial with four Q's out of seven runs, my first Steeplechase Q and my first placement in Masters with a nice 2nd in Jumpers, despite all the slush. Gracie didn't get any Q's but had some incredibly nice moments.

We spent the next month or so working on my 'after injury' weave speed, utilizing various methods from luring to hand movements, rewards and more. It's always a work in progress, but I am getting faster in my weaves all the time. Gracie has amazing weaves, always has and probably always will. Mum discovered so much more about teaching a pup weaves from the time she trained me to the time she trained Gracie, and it's really paid off with her. Nice job, girly!

Another trial in USDAA in April. A good trial where I ended up with 5 Q's out of 9. Got my AAD, ASA and my AG in that trial - well I thought I got my AG. Seems that the USDAA office found an error and I really didn't get that nice, last Advanced Gamblers Q. But didn't find out until it was time for our next USDAA trial. Dang, thought I had bagged that little elusive bugger.

By this time I still wasn't running very confidently. Heck it was our first full year in USDAA by that point. Mum looks at some of the vids from back in April and sees a kind of slow, unsure, kind of shy pup. So our mission was to 'get over that' this year. And I think we've pretty much succeeded, but I'll get to that later.

May

Early in May, we went over to visit my Ortho and showed him how well I was doing. It was such a fun day - mostly because they didn't torture me on this visit and I got to play with my Orthopedic Surgeon Doc Stephan at the Indianapolis Veterinary Specialist clinic.

Doc Stephan usually only takes cases where he has to operate, and I luckily didn't have to have a pin inserted in my foot. But he was gracious enough to take my recovery on, because I am an agility dog and my recovery meant a lot to my 'career.'

We are so glad that he did, I got the best of care, I know! The day we visited him, I gave him my first place ribbon that I had won at the USDAA trial in April. He was real grateful and said that he rarely gets to see what happens with his patients after they leave recovery. I'm glad we went to see him, he's a great guy, kind, generous, and patient - at least with me!!!!

Later that weekend, we took off for another AKC trial - this was my first time on horse stall matting. Didn't do too bad and came away with a DQ and a nice 1st place, and some great MACH points. Then came the middle of May and I began a stretch of 'triple face planting' - or some may say barreling into the triple and face planting my nose into the dirt.

This happened at my May 13th AKC trial and then happened again in a couple of more trials later in the year. Scared the beegeebees out of Mum, every time I did it. But I just racked it up to part of my recovery. I had lost a huge amount of muscle mass when I broke my foot, it was going to take me time to get back up to speed - so to speak. I also came up gimpy throughout the next couple of months, many times - way too many to count. Mum discovered I had some nerve damage to my paw and it would take some time to redirect itself - pretty common with a broken bone and just all part of the recovery. But by September it was all gone and I was completely healed.

June

Then it turned into June and what a great Summer it was. Gracie and I had a blast playing in the yard, training and competing in agility, and just being dogs!

Mum always gets out the pool (and the sprinkler for Gracie) during really hot days, and we have a blast! You know, my sis Gracie, isn't so bad - as a matter of fact. She's become my best friend. As of March of 2007, we've spent an entire year living together; and now I don't know what I'd do without her. She's loving, kind, sweet, good with any other pups (unlike me sometimes), and always is in the mood to have fun! I admire that about her! And I run much better in agility when she's there to support me.

The beginning of June started with another great USDAA trial. The nice folks at the USDAA office got me entered into the Advanced Gamblers to hopefully get that elusive Gamblers Title, and we did it with style, and a first place. That moved us up to Masters in everything, finally! Also came away with a first in pairs, and a third in standard.

Now that we had graduated into Masters Gamblers, Mum had to work even harder with me to work at a distance. She came up with a plan that worked beautifully and still does! Fetching for distance and speed is what she calls it. Not only did it work for me, but it's now become my absolute favorite game in the World.

Then just the next weekend we had another AKC trial near our home. At this point of the year, I still wasn't completely confident and it showed in our runs - with some sniffing, a bit of slowness and lack of confidence. We were lucky to come away with a 50% Q rate at this trial! Work still need to be done to build the confidence. But fun, nonetheless!

In June some significant things happened - we started a new blog, Rescue Me, to help pups in need find their forever home. It instantly became a hit and still to this day gets more hits and visits than my own blog. We hope it's helping. And if we help just one pup find a new home, we will feel like it's a success! Another thing we did was get our own domain name for our blog. And we started getting a lot of mail, from all over the world - books, postcards, letters and some fan mail. Love it!

Also in June we participated in a seminar with Jen Pinder. And dog was that fun! Jen is a very experienced, wonderful teacher and we learned some really great tips to help us with our agility runs.

And I had my third birthday! Mum made a really fun video to commemorate the occasion. Then, at the end of the month we had another USDAA trial and this one will be one to remember - it's the trial where I had my first qualification to Nationals - I became a Grand Prix qualifier for the 2007 Cynosport World Games. Something I really didn't expect to happen my first full year in agility, but it did and we were super proud. And we used some of Jen's tips, they really helped a lot - even getting us super, super close to a Super Q!

July

What I didn't know then was that I picked something up at that trial and came down with a bit of gastroenteritis the following week. Not fun, let me tell ya! I was sick for a week. And wouldn't you know we had a trial the next weekend.

By Friday I was getting depressed from being so sick. Mum knew I couldn't run, but on Sunday because of my mood, she took me to the trial to just have some fun. We ran a couple of courses, even Q'd in one, but of course I wasn't my usual self. But it did get me out of my depression and by the following week, I was raring to go again.

The middle of July brought more AKC trials, and we attended one in Danville, Indiana. This is the trial I called 'beach agility,' the one with all the deep, wet sand. We still managed to get a few Q's on the weekend, but not without some real effort and real soreness from running in 6 inch deep sand. I really liked running in the sand, but it's pretty difficult to get off the ground sometimes to take a double/triple.

What I really remember the most about that weekend, is running a nice JWW course and coming up on a triple, I sunk in the sand, just as Mum did too running right beside me, neither one of us could get up enough gumption after that, I trashed the triple and Mum just walked to the finish, with a sore ankle.

Then July came around and there were more agility trials, more Q's and even some DQ's. I also entered a contest that TipTail.com was running to get my sis, Gracie, a birthday present. Her birthday is on July 25th. The contest was to write about why you thought you should win, and I wrote about why I wanted to get my sis some pressies. We were lucky enough to win, even with some really stiff competition. Gracie got her presents and was one of the happiest pups I've ever seen!

Then the end of July, coming back from an agility trial in Dayton, one of the worst things that could ever happened, happened to us. We were in a car accident coming back from the trial. It was horrible, scary, and we suffered some effects - me some bruised ribs, Gracie some stress/trauma issues and all of us were sore for a couple of weeks. But we lived and we survived. We even got our car back, good as new. The insurance companies are still hashing out fault, but we are just glad that we are OK.

The accident inspired me to write about dog car safety - especially after many of our buds asked us lots of questions about it. So we put together a Squidoo lens (one among many) that focused on dog car safety. It's been picked up by several great sites and we are glad that the word is getting out and we are making a difference in pups lives.

August

Just the next weekend we had a USDAA trial - not one of our best to say the least. Mum had to pull me from many of the runs because I was too sore from the accident. But we still came away with one snooker Q.

During August, Squidoo (one of our favorite venues for putting together fun and educational webpages) had a contest for Giant Squid. Not only did we achieve Giant Squid status, but one of our lenses was named lens of the day - Our Canine CPR lens - which we were inspired to write when we heard about our friend Tish and how she saved her pup Cruella from chocking one day. It was a hot topic at that point because Oprah's pup Gracie had just recently passed from chocking on a toy. Knowing how to care for your pup in an emergency is soo important.

Later in August, I began a significant breakthrough in agility - I started to become really confident. Maybe it was because I was totally over my injury, maybe because we're more experienced, maybe because, because, because.... I started Q'ing more, I was faster and I was more certain about where I was running, and it paid off. I did learn one very important thing, however; don't let a youngster leash run behind you when you're about to run. Makes for a noisy, unfocused, manic, crazy run, and most probably an NQ. Also on August 18th I got my second Q in Steeplechase to qualify in that event for the 2007 Cynosport World Games. Woo Hoo!

September

In September, ABC News emailed and requested that we submit a vid asking a question to Cesar Milan. We jumped at the chance and Mum sent in the vid - it aired on September 9th on ABCNews Online. Also in September, we spend some time training, and having fun in the backyard. Most of you will know that herding birds is one of my favorite passtimes. And Mum finally caught it on tape. Crazy stuff!

After my injuries and rehab, Mum got real curious about how to condition me for optimal performance. She searched the Internet and found some great articles and bits of info. She put together another Squidoo lens so that the info would be available to other Canine Athletes. She refers to it often to help me build my endurance and for stretching before and after exercise.

On September 21st in Middletown, OH, on one of the most difficult courses I (and many old timers) have ever seen, I got a DQ and got my MX, MXJ. It was one of the best days. The rest of the weekend stunk, but we went to Ohio and did what we needed to do. On to the MACH!

Nearly the end of September, Mum and I started another blog - Raise a Green Dog! With all the concerns over pet food and lead in pet toys; Mum and I wanted to share information on how to find safe eats and fun things to play with. It's slow to become pupular, but those that find it really like the blog, and we sure have fun doing it.

October

Then began our record breaking AKC winning streak. An amazing run of Q's and DQ's that we just don't think will ever happen with us again (but of course you never know!). We've talked with a lot of folks around here, and they've never heard of anyone getting 14 straight Q's and 7 straight DQ's in their life. I'm sure it's happened somewhere. But we sure consider ourselves very fortunate, indeed!

It started with our October 6-7 trial in Lebanon, IN (two days); continued with the October 26-28 Dayton Dog Club trial at the Circle G in Lewisburg, OH (three days); and ended at the Gem City AKC Trial at Circle G, November 30-December 1.

We attended the Lafayette Kennel Club AKC Trial on December 2nd in Lafayette, Indiana and shattered the streak with horrific runs and both NQ's for the entire day. Well, guess it couldn't last forever! But what an amazing run that was! Most of the time we were just stunned.

One of my most memorable runs came out of this streak, a great standard course! This course was my first run of the weekend (almost always my fastest), and it just felt like we were a real team, moving in sync, commands out at just the right time, turns perfectly executed, contacts smooth and fast - just one of those feel good runs Mum and I will never forget it. Not good enough for first place against those Ohio pups, but good enough for 5th and we think that's real, real good considering one of the top dogs in the World was running with us.

During the streak, we also learned a lot about timer malfunctions and that judges don't always agree in AKC on how to handle them. Check this out!

In our October USDAA trial, we had some really great runs. One of them is another one of those runs Mum says she will never forget. Our gamblers run. Not only was it smooth, fast, and together, our gamble was a work of art, and we got first place too boot - beating some of the best dogs in the Midwest.

November and December

After our AKC streak, the agility season for the year was over. In November we were incredibly honored to interview Chloe, Lee Harrington's pup and author of the pupular book Rex and the City! We had three parts to the interview - one, two and three! And my kittie brother, Wolfie, became a cover model, gracing the front page of Florida Feline Magazine! We took some time off from agility in November and started working on building my endurance, and foundation skills - this continued through December, with our next trial in mid January.

Looking ahead

We feel it was a great year, but we have so much more we think that we can do! We'd like to qualify again for the 2008 Cynosport World Games, we'd also (if we can get enough trials in) like to qualify for the 2009 AKC Nationals. And if we have the funds, we sure like to attend these events. Mum thinks that we may be ready since I'll be four.

Not likely, but definitely would be a plus is to get my MACH next year, if not, definitely the following. And of course it would be incredible grand (but not probable this year either) to get my ADCH, as well. We've got a lot to accomplish, and of course lots and lots of fun to be had. We're also really looking forward to our seminar in February with Silvia Trkman!

We just don't know what we'd do without agility in our lives, either one of us. It fits us like glue, and when something fits that well, well it just feels great and you just have to do it!

We've also made some amazing friends through blogging, near and far, two-legged and four. We've learned a lot, and we hope we've shared some good info. Here are some of my favorite posts of the year:

Living life in the face of danger!
Foundation skills for agility!
My Letter to Santa!
It's Puppy Mill Awareness Day!
Happy Holidays!
This week is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week!
Cesar answered my Q!
It's Dogs in Politics Day!
Agility from a dog's point of view!
The Scoop on Doo! (which inspired us to publish another Squidoo lens on the subject of doo!
Why do we pick who we pick?
Why am I faster?
This Memorial Day we honor the dogs of war!

And what was my most commented on post this year? It's my Gotcha Day!

Thank you to everyone for visiting me on my blog and for being my friend!!!!!!

Now for those agility stat geeks (like me and my Mum) here is my stat recap for the year:

Current age 3.5 years, as of December 31, 2007
This years trials began on April 7, and ended on December 2, 2007.

AKC Review:

14 DQ's
16 Standard Q's
16 JWW Q's

Average Q Rate:
  • 64% JWW
  • 68% Standard
Titles earned: MX, MXJ

Number of trials: 12
Number of trials days: 25

Total MACH points: 264 (total to date 307)
Average MACH points per trial day: 10.56

USDAA Review:

6 Jumpers Q's - Masters
1 Pairs Q - Masters
5 Snooker Q's - all Masters
4 Standard Q's - two Advanced, two Masters
4 Gamblers Q's - two Advanced, two Masters
Grand Prix - 2 Q's
Steeplechase - 2 Q's

Qualified for 2007 Cynosport World Games
  • Grand Prix
  • Steeplechase
Average Q rate:
  • 46% Jumpers
  • 40% Gamblers
  • 50% Snooker
  • 25% Pairs
  • Standard 20%
  • Grand Prix 100%
  • Steeplechase 40%
Titles earned:
AAD, ASA, AG, JM

Lifetime Points: 20

Number of trials: 7
Number of trial days: 15

Overall:

10 first place finishes
7 second place finishes
9 third place finishes
9 fourth place finishes

Best YPS for a Q Run:
  • 4.951 USDAA Jumpers Masters
  • 4.532 AKC JWW Exec B
  • 3.605 Standard Exec B
  • 3.236 USDAA Standard
Significant accomplishments:
  • 7 straight DQ's and 14 straight Q's, three trials, 10-6-2007 - 12-1-2007
  • Qualified for 2007 Cynosport World Games Grand Prix and Steeplechase event 1.5 years into competition at age 3.
Favorite courses:
  • Standard in Ohio -and Gamblers in USDAA
Favorite surface:
  • Dirt, then grass
Looking forward:
  • Potential trial days to MACH: 41.95
  • Potential trial days to qualify for AKC Nationals: 37.88
  • One Standard Q needed for MAD
Road to ADCH:
  • 3 Standard Q's
  • 3 Gamblers Q's
  • 3 Snooker Super Q's
  • 4 Pairs Q's
  • 1 DAM Team Qualifier
  • 2 Qualifiers in Grand Prix/Steeplechase

6 comments:

Maggie & Mitch said...

What an awesome year you've had! How can you ever top 2007?!
Happy new year!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Crikit, Sparky & Ginger said...

Oh Johann Crikit here... it's so pleasing to read all about your agility. I so wanna do it but we don't have the budget but I'm keeping my paws crossed that one day you will be reading some stats on me! never know...

BTW You & Gracie looks adorable in your Christmas pose. Your mommy sure did apeeciate it as I did too!

Good Luck with your next event!
Love Licks, Crikit out

Donna said...

Those are some awesome accomplishments for just one year! May 2008 be just as good and injury-free. Hope to see you at a trial this year.
Donna & the pack

Charlie - The Big Dog said...

You never cease to amaze me J-Dog!

My year in review is:

Ate, slept, pooped, head butted dad, repeat :-)

You Da Dog Buddy!

Best wishes to your whole pack for 2008!

Luv C$

parlance said...

Johann, what a great year it was! I hope 2008 is equally wonderful. I'll have to set aside a whole afternoon to browse through all those old posts that look so interesting. Loved the one where you were herding birds.

Elf said...

What a great summary. I might just borrow your idea and try it, myself, if I have the time.

-ellen (Taj MuttHall)