Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A New Challenge

Eight days ago, my right knee flared up so badly that I had to use a walker in order to get around the house.  Thankfully, 24 hours later I was able to hobble around without the walker.  Then three days later I was awakened by a burning sensation in my left buttock.  The initial diagnosis was that my piriformis muscle was spasming and affecting my sciatic nerve.  However, two days ago a rash appeared and I realized I probably had shingles.  My self-diagnosis was confirmed, and I started on an anti-viral yesterday.  I also started physical therapy for my knee yesterday.  Let's just say that I'm not a particularly happy camper at the moment.

Last Sunday, I had a break from both my knee pain and the shingles attack, and I was able to take Willie to a NADAC trial.  My only goal for the day was to finish the day and still be able to drive home.  That goal was met, plus we managed a 5-pt Q in Elite Regular and our second Novice Tunnelers Q.  However, I really felt our non-qualifying Elite Jumpers run was our best run of the day, so that's the one I posted to YouTube.  (Watch closely and you will see that the bar comes down when I turn my head to look at the final two jumps.)

My YouTube user name is Whitewaterwoman, a name I chose many years ago when I was a whitewater canoeist.

Nantahala Falls, North Carolina

Wildcat Rapids on the Vermilion River, Illinois

These photos are about 20 years old, and I was about 65 pounds lighter and in considerably better physical shape than I am today.  I can't do anything about my age, but I decided that I certainly can do something about the pounds I have accumulated over the years.  Hopefully, physical therapy will enable me to resume walking and hiking so that I can also work on improving my level of physical fitness.

Last week, I promised myself I would start eating better.  It's been five days, and so far I'm doing good.  The biggest problem with my diet was that it was way heavy on refined carbs, including three or four cans of Cherry Coke a day--I've cut that to one or none.  The other problem was that it was way too light on healthy foods.  I've begun collecting and preparing recipes that are much healthier than what we were eating.  Here's one I prepared the other day.

Wish me luck with my new challenge.  And if you have any favorite recipes, feel free to post a link in the comment section.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


For me, the most difficult thing about bonus line work at this point is figuring out what verbal cues I need to give.  I think I'm doing a fairly good job of drawing the line, but when your dog is heading  away from you, verbals become essential for alerting your dog to what you want.  Today, we tackled the Open version of yesterday's Jumpers course.

Today, the biggest problem I encountered with both Belle and Willie was getting from 5 to 6.  I tried "go," get out," and "switch," all to no avail.  This was really weird since the opening on the yesterday's Novice course was exactly the same as today's Open course, and 5 to 6 was definitely not a major issue yesterday!  The solution to my problem was to use a "come" command as the dogs were closing in on 5.  It worked like a charm, but why it was necessary today and not yesterday was a mystery to me. 


The only other consistent issue I had today was at 3 with Belle.  If I said "switch" as she was crossing 3, she switched right then and there.  I had to delay my switch cues until she was within a stride of 4.  Since it was absolutely necessary to do this with Belle, I decided to also do it with Willie.  When I compared clips from yesterday and today in Coach's Eye, I discovered that the delayed switch cues were responsible for Willie and Belle defaulting to the tunnel if I did not say "come" as they crossed 5.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Switch vs. Go Back

The weather has finally turned nice here in the Midwest, so I thought I'd set up a jumpers course and do some bonus line training.  Here's the course we tackled today:

 In our morning session, I made several mistakes.
  • Trying to work the course from behind the red line.
  • Using a moving start with Willie.
  • Using a switch command at #9.
Without a doubt, our biggest problem was #9 where Willie gave me all sorts of unexpected responses to my "switch" command.  When I sat down and watched the video, I could see Willie's point.  I wanted him to turn away from me and take #10.  However, from Willie's point of view there is really no change of direction involved.  Moving from #3 all the way to #10 involves moving along one big counterclockwise circle!  When I said "switch," Willie did his best to switch off the circle he was on.  He tried several different options, almost all of which involved turning to his right.

The "turn" from #9 to #10 is actually a spot where "go back" is the appropriate command.  Luckily, we have worked on that a little bit, so it wasn't totally foreign to Willie when I tried using it on this course.

In the morning session we used a running start, and Willie failed to heed my "turn" command for the right turn at #2 several times.  I decided he probably didn't need quite so much momentum approaching that first turn, so for the afternoon session, I had him start from a sit stay.

The morning session got pretty messy and ugly, so I decided to take the whole experience down a notch and use the green line for our bonus practice.  It allowed me to handle the course much more calmly and confidently.  I'm really looking forward to tackling the Open course tomorrow.