Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WW: Terrier Racing

Terrier racing is a sport similar to lure coursing or straight racing, in that a lure and/or plastic bag is attached to a line and dragged across the ground for the dogs to chase. Terrier racing is different in that the dogs are run in groups of up to six, are loaded into start boxes, and end in a dive through a hole after the lure. The first dog through the hole wins. Terrier racing can also be over jumps as well as flat ground.

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In the back of these photos, you can see the start box (the green outlined thing). It has mesh on the front of the doors, so the dogs can see the lure and be ready to break out of the box when it opens.

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Over jumps is the same, except jumps made out of cloth covered foam are added. The jumps are soft so that if a dog hits them, they won't get injured.


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For both over jumps and on flat, the dogs end going through a padded wall that has a small hole in it, big enough for one dog to fit through. First dog through the hole wins. Since this is terriers, sometimes there can be disagreements about the entire process. Because of that, dogs are required to run wearing muzzles.

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Like the rat games, terrier racing is a fun sport to do with a jack russell, and most of them naturally take to it (though training on box loading can be pretty important for many dogs).

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ratting

Back in June, I went with my friend Tara and her dogs to a Jack Russell Play Day in Washington. The idea of the play day was to get a bunch of terriers together and let them do terrier things. On the list was Go to Ground, Barn Hunt, and Terrier Racing (both flat and over hurdles).

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Working the rat


I took Ptera along to let her go crazy doing terrier things, and she had an absolute blast. Go To Ground involves the dog having to go through a series of wooden tunnels to find a rat, which is actually outside of the tunnel, visible through some wooden bars. The dog is then supposed to "work" the rat, attempting to get at it, for a specific amount of time. The difficulty in this sport is that some dogs realize that the rat is outside the tunnel and will refuse to go in, or will come back out and go around the outside to find the rat. The tunnel can have multiple turns and be a decent distance. Ptera absolutely loves Go To Ground, and I can set her up a few feet from the tunnel entrance and just drop her to the ground, and she dives straight in. Because it was a fun day, not an actual competition, I was able to take some time with the help of the volunteer running that station at the time and get some pictures of Ptera. Obviously the wooden tunnels make it a hard sport to photograph, so the only real pictures are either at the beginning, going into the tunnels (which isn't super interesting) or at the end, working the rat through the wooden bars of the tunnel.

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The rats, by the way, are totally bored by this. They are people's pet rats who are brought out for events like this and Barn hunt, and so they are treated very well. None of them cares at all about the dogs. You can see this rat above actually has its back to Ptera, and you can just tell it thinks the entire thing is a little strange but no big deal.

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I love her crazy face


Barn Hunt practice was also super fun. I ran Ptera in a Novice and an Open type set up (this wasn't a fun test or anything, just a practice for people doing Barn Hunt). She did great, and indicated really strong. We also tried a Crazy 8's set up, and didn't do so well there. I think that with all of the rats in Go to Ground and Barn Hunt, and the terrier racing, she was hot and over excited. But the volunteers there also humored me so I could get some pictures of Ptera doing Barn Hunt. When I run my own dogs in these things for real, I never get a chance to get photos, so this was a perfect opportunity.

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Bite that tube

Watching terriers do what they were bred for (in our structured, for fun only way) is a super fun experience.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WW: Crating Space

Our crating space this past weekend at the Muddy Paws tournament. Our new banner (yay! we look like a real team now!), our white board with team lineups and race numbers (waiting to get filled out for the next race of the day), and our dogs, waiting patiently and not-so-patiently in the crates, with all of our random crap piled on top. Cleaning up at the end of a tournament always involves me wondering where all of this damn crap came from, and why do I need all of it at every tournament.

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Our crating space

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Flyball Weekend

We just got home from another great flyball weekend.

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My little girly


There really is so much to tell I don't know where to start.

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Starting. She is intense


Apupalyptic took first place in our division for the first time on Sunday, after missing first on Saturday by a single tournament point. The second place placement on Saturday was the best we had ever done, and it literally came down to the last race of the day it was so close. We were ecstatic. To follow that up with a first place the next day, a super solid first place where it was decided even before our last two races, was amazing. I've never been super hung up on tournament placements, but when we realized that it was possible that we could place so well on Saturday, it was a great feeling.

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I have to say, though, regardless of placement, this was just a great weekend. It really felt like everything was coming together. We have an awesome person dedicated to boxloading for the team while his wife runs their dogs, and the consistency of having one person reliably do that job is awesome. The dogs are all really getting in the rhythm of flyball. They are running consistently, they are getting great at passing each other reliably, and we are able to just assume that they will go out there and do their job, and they do it. With so many new dogs and new handlers over the past year and a half, it is great to see the team coming together into something solid, and something successful. Winning our division was at least partly random chance, by being seeded as the fastest team in that division, rather than the slowest team in the next one. But I feel that even had we come in dead last in a faster division, we would have ended the weekend feeling just as thrilled because of the sense of teamwork and things coming together properly. We had a few titles earned this weekend too- Angus is brand new, and earned his FD and FDX (he just started flyball at the very end of January this year), Addie earned her FDCh-G, and Stella got her FDCh-S. We're well on our way to having all of our dogs titled and working towards the big ones- FM and beyond.

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She almost looks brindle here- but really she is just sunbleached from laying in the yard


Ptera ran like a rock star, earning something like a thousand points for the weekend. Koira ran okay- she was slower than at past tournaments by about half a second, and she bobbled her ball a few times. Once, her ball split in half when she squished it right out of the box, and she dropped it there without bringing it back. A few times she bobbled- I always prefer if she comes back to me rather than chase those stupid racquetballs all over the place, as it is safer and less chance of collision that way. Unfortunately her entire team was doing much the same thing- running a bit slower than normal and having more silly mistakes than any of them normally did. We didn't get many points for the weekend. But, Koira had a great time, as did Ptera. As did I.

This is my favorite way to spend a summer weekend. Or really, a weekend any time of the year. I wish there was a way to make this my job, and make this my life.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

June Hikes and Beaches

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June was a bit of a strange month, in that I traveled to California without any dogs along. I started in Oakland/San Francisco, saw Golden Gate, headed out to Yosemite the next day, then spent the following four days driving back to Oregon through the redwoods along the California coast.

Earlier in the month before the California trip, I did make it out to Beazell Forest one more time. I went with Ptera and it was late in the day, so we tried out the one trail there that we haven't done before, which is shorter than the main ridge trail. We had fun and finished our hike before dark.

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We started at Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.

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Golden Gate bridge, with Fort Point in the lower left

Yosemite was fun to see, but it was crowded. The trolleys were super crowded, but there was nowhere to park if you drove around, so you either crammed yourself in with everyone else or drove around and around looking to find somewhere to park. I'm glad I saw it once, but I doubt I will ever be back. (I did think that better maps and better information online would have helped a lot in making the trip more smooth and more enjoyable.)

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Yosemite Falls

After Yosemite, we headed to the coast, where I tried ziplining for the first time ever. I have something of a fear of heights, and bungee jumping years ago was one of the worst decisions I ever made. Ziplining, however, turned out to be awesome. I went to Sonoma Canopy Tours, and the guides were great, giving instructions on ziplining, giving information about the trees we were in, and in helping me out when I was scared of the jump off.

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I think these bridges were actually the worst part of the ziplining.

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At the end, there is a rappel down to get out of the final tree. Stepping over the edge is always the scary part, whether for a rappel or for the ziplining itself, but it was fun.

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On the way up the coast, we stopped at a super cute hotel in a super cute down. Mendocino Hotel is in Mendocino, CA and is totally Victorian style from the outside to all the furnishings inside. The entire town including the hotel has amazing gardens as well, and the hotel balcony has amazing views.

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Then we really hit the redwoods proper, and had to do some touristy stops.

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The most amazing hike we went on was Fern Canyon. The road to get there is horrible, gravel/dirt, super bumpy, under construction, with huge delays, and even two stream crossings. You think the entire time that there is no way this is going to be worth it. But then you get there, and it totally is. Biggest down side I can see to potentially going back there is that no dogs are allowed on this hike.

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Showing a ton of restraint, I am just sharing one photo from Fern Canyon itself. It was amazing, though. Huge, towering walls covered in five different varieties of fern. I can share more photos later if people are interested. It was, basically, one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen.

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Grandma for scale of the walls.

We saw more of the redwoods, but nothing could top Fern Canyon.

And that really is the sum up of my month. Not a ton of hiking with the dog, but I did get to see some awesome new places and enjoy a fun trip with my grandma.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hundur's Crunch #chewyinfluencer

The month of June has been crazy busy here. I went on a trip to California with my grandmother, sans dogs, which was super fun and somewhat strange feeling all at once. When I got home, my package from Chewy was waiting for me to do some reviews.

Hundur's Crunch is a high quality, 100% fish treat for dogs. It comes in "fingers" which are basically dried blocks of fish skin a little shorter than your finger, and a bit fatter around. The treats smelled very fishy the second I opened the bag, and I was immediately worried that the smell would linger everywhere the treats went. And promptly forgot one in a friend's car in a hot parking lot while we went in a store for an hour. But the fear was unfounded, as the car didn't smell at all fishy.

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As for the treat itself, a friend's super picky dog really liked it and happily crunched through a "finger" while another friend's dog liked it well enough, but not enough to eat it while doing nail trims. Ptera seems to be interested, but finds the big finger size pieces hard to chew. For her, this is absolutely more of a chew than a treat.

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While the pieces can be broken up, it isn't easy, and they flake apart like crazy and break unevenly. Ptera did find the smaller chunks easier to eat, but I didn't think the amount of effort that went into breaking them was worth it.

We'll use the rest of the bag as a more long lasting kind of chew option, but while I absolutely love the idea of these treats, the reality doesn't seem to be something that we would use a lot. Large dogs who need a hypoallergenic treat and like something larger and crunchy would be bigger fans, I think. If I were to buy these again, it would be to use as longer lasting chews for when Ptera gets crated when I'm at work. A bag of these treats, coming in currently at $4.99, is a pretty decent buy for that.

We were sent this product in exchange for our honest review. We were not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are 100% our own.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

American Journey Dog Food #chewyinfluencer

For Chewy this month, we are checking out American Journey grain free dog food, in the Salmon and Sweet Potato recipe. (We were given this item in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are entirely our own, and we were not compensated in any other way.)

First off, I really like the list of ingredients on this food. It is grain free, with salmon, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the first three ingredients. That means a lot of the protein in this food (32% protein) is from meat sources, rather than plant sources. The starches in the food are peas, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas.

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Ptera seemed interested in this food, but not as crazy about it as other foods we have tried. She has been acting a little off after spending a week with a friend, so I'm wondering if it was just weirdness rather than not liking the food. That said, when mixed with her regular food, she happily cleaned the bowl, so it isn't as if she doesn't like the food at all. I'm planning on trying her with the food again in a week or so when her weirdness settles down a little and see what she thinks then, as her opinion may change.

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With the quality in the list of ingredients, I honestly expected Ptera to be more crazy over the food than she was, which is why I am thinking it is just some kind of weirdness she is feeling right now rather than the food. And it isn't as if she didn't eat it. I would recommend trying this food to someone who was looking for a grain free food that didn't have potatoes, or just a grain free food in general. At $39.99 for a 24 lb dog, it is reasonably priced for a grain free food and wouldn't break the bank to feed regularly.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Team Photoshoot

My flyball team is growing, and we decided we needed to do a new team photoshoot with all the new dogs and people. Some dogs and people weren't with us last time. Some dogs were with us but weren't doing flyball yet as experienced dogs. So it was time to update our photos.

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She knew I was off to the side doing the photos, and kept looking at me


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We went all out this time, including posed photos


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Jumping in front of our team banner


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Ready to run!


I love having some good photos of me and of my dog (together and just of her) running flyball. Getting good photos at tournaments can be hard, because we are concentrating on racing, not on being photogenic. So I love taking some time out at a practice once or twice a year to get some good photos.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In the Background

In the background of the flyball tournament, there is a space where everyone keeps their boxes, ball hoppers, props, and other gear that their team needs for racing or warm ups.


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When getting ready for each race, first, you have to find all your gear in this constantly shifting, crowded area where a ton of the boxes look exactly the same except for tiny variables like a piece of tape on top.

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I can spot our box in both of the pictures above. Can you?

Here is a photo from the weekend of Addie (getting an awesome start) that shows our box.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Tired Dog Is A Good Dog (Sorta)

We went for a hike towards the end of the day, less than an hour before the sun set. My real camera was at home, and my phone camera is iffy at best even in good lighting conditions.

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But Ptera hadn't had a chance to do much other than hang out in the yard and sleep on the bed for the day, so I wanted to get her out and about a bit, and had to make sure to grab some photos for our Hikes and Beach Goals series.

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In the end, a tired dog is a good dog. To a certain extent. For Ptera, I feel that unwinding in the woods makes for a more relaxed kind of tired than a weekend of flyball or lure coursing. She may sleep as deep, but she seems more calm in her sleep after hiking.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Hiking and Beach Goals

In May, we got out quite a bit. Lots of short hikes were taken on the logging roads nearby.

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"Two roads diverge in a wood"


These trails are beautiful, but it can be easy to end up going down the wrong trail, and then hiking down, down, down, down, and reaching a dead end, only to have to turn around and go back up. Every time I come to a fork in the road out here, I think of that Frost poem, but my own version. "Two roads diverge in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and I went down and down and down a really steep road until I reached a dead end and then had to haul myself all the way back up it again." That is the country version of that poem. Seriously. (Don't worry, I know my way around out here really well, I just occasionally deliberately take the wrong turn just to see where it goes- and it is always a huge downhill hike that ends in a dead end. Every time.)

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Exploring


I also met up with Pallo's mom and we went for a hike at Beazell forest.

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Posing


Ptera and Pallo get along well, and both of them love hiking.

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Trail map


Beazell has two main loops of trails, and some smaller additional loops. I always end up climbing the ridge trail, and then regretting the decision the entire time as it kicks my ass both going up and coming back down.

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Bird info sign


We even took the easy loop first, then decided it wasn't a long enough hike, and went and did the ridge trail anyway. Pallo's mom is never going to go hiking with me again, I think, after I made her hike all the way up there and back down.

We did make it to the beach a few times as well, though I didn't always bring my camera or get a picture with the sign. The neatest thing on the beach was seeing the bald eagle fighting with a seagull, which I posted about a few weeks ago.

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Lost Creek State Park


One of the trips, there was a storm coming in fast from the ocean. We went for our walk on the beach, then took a break for dinner, then went back out afterwards to see what the storm may have washed onto the beach.

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You can see the storm coming in on the right side of this photo.


Spring weather on the Oregon coast is strange.

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Puffy white clouds and a clear blue sky after the storm passed through


When I go to the beach with my mom, her goal is always to look for cool things on the beach, be it glass floats, fossils, or any other nifty things. We always pick up floats and rope and such to bring home if we find it.

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Finding floats


The key to finding good stuff is often timing and knowing the right weather patterns. I just kind of go along for the ride most of the time. I haven't found anything really awesome, though I have found some regular floats a few times, and I did find a tin of ovaltine that was made in Taiwan, which was kind of cool.

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Brian Booth State Park


How much did you get out this month? Go anywhere cool? Find anything awesome?