Saturday, July 10, 2010

NADAC Novice Regular

This is not Karma, but this is a comparable event to her second run today:  It is the same complexity level (Novice), the same event  ("Regular") at the same facility (Soccerblast, Burnseville, MN), at a NADAC-sanctioned event. The dog in this video makes it look easy:

This dog, Mira, makes it look more difficult:

Happy day at our house

Karma competed in her first agility trial today.  The world of agility competition is a complex thing, with many different sponsoring organizations (AKC, North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), U.S. Dog Agility Association, Canine Performance Events), and with many different varieties of events at each competition at many different levels (i.e. courses vary in complexity/trickiness).  Not all of the organizations allow mixed breeds to compete.  Karma competed in a NADAC event at the least complex level (Novice).  She competed in two events today (regular and "touch-and-go") and will compete in another event tomorrow morning.  This event was indoors.

The whole experience was intensely stimulating for her:  dogs everywhere, her first exposure to Astroturf, strangers in the ring doing the judging, her fear of the unknown, the inexplicable (to her) schedule of sitting in a crate, then competing, then going back in the crate, then competing again.  Her doggy brain had a lot to process.

It's not at all uncommon for dogs new to competition to completely wig out and just zoom around the course paying no attention to the obstacles or their handler.  I had very low expectations going in, but Karma did amazingly well in her first run.  She ran fast and clean through the first 14 of the 16 obstacles (A-frame, tunnels, wickets that she's never seen before), but then she came upon the dog walk and froze.  The dogwalk is an elevated level plank with inclined planks on either end.  She's never had any issue with the dogwalk in practice.  I suspect that from her vantage point as she was getting on, it looked like a teeter-totter, something she hasn't completely conquered yet.  In class, she gets a chance to see all the equipment as we get warmed up before class, so she can tell where the teeter is and where the dogwalk is.

So she took two steps onto the dogwalk, got scared and jumped off.  That's a disqualification.  Also, at some point when I was trying to coax her back onto the dogwalk, I reached out to her and ruffled her neck, not to physically maneuver her onto the walk, but just to give her some encouragement.  That too, though, is a disqualification; there is no touching your dog during a run.  It's a habit I'll have to break.

I was very pleased with her performance for the first time out.  Lots of more experienced dogs ran around completely out of control.

We sat around for a couple hours before the next event, and by that time Karma was pretty much mentally exhausted.  She ran her second run poorly, running around the jumps and getting distracted by smells on the ground.

We'll compete in one more event tomorrow if I can get her out of bed in the morning.  She is one tired pup now.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Sad week at our house

When I joined this blog, Michael promised that I'd offer cat stories.  Now is the time.

In January 1997, K decided he'd like to have a cat. [Update:  He was living alone at the time.] He'd never had a pet before, but he had observed my two cats and concluded that cats added a little life to the house without demanding huge amounts of attention.  They were more fun than plants and less work than a dog. Cats were independent and didn't need much to be content, K thought.

At the time he said he didn't understand why people talk to animals. "What do you SAY to them?  Why talk to them when they can't understand you?" he'd asked me, incredulously, when I said I talked to my cats all the time.

We went to the Minneapolis pound and he inspected the available kittens.  One black and white tuxedo kitten clung spread-eagle to the bars of her cage and meowed with all her might at us.  When K held her, she immediately purred; she put up a huge fuss when he tried to return her to the cage, shouting more than meowing at him.  K was smitten with her feisty attitude.  She had to be held at the pound for three more days before she could be adopted.  That fourth day fell on a day when K couldn't leave his office at midday when the pound opened, but he wanted that particular kitten so I took time off of work to be at the pound the second it opened to nab her for him before someone else got her.

"Diggity" has been passionately devoted to K ever since.  The second he sits down at home, she is on him.  She gazes at him and purrs.  (I've made up a little voice for her that says, "I love you, I love you, I love you" in rapid succession, matching the passion in her gaze.) When he pets her, she drools.  When he tries to get away from her she shouts at him.  When he leaves the house, she sits by the door and yowls.  When he's been away for awhile she yowls more.  When she hears his keys outside the door, she races to the door and yowls some more.

He's expressed annoyance about this over the years:  "Why does she have to be ON me all the time?  Why can't she just be by herself sometimes like your cats?  I got a cat because I thought they were independent."  I remind him that in their initial meeting at the pound, Diggity showed him exactly who she was.  She's so much needier than any of the four cats I've owned but she's a one-person cat so K bears the burden of giving her the attention she demands.

She's smart.  K trained her not to jump on tables and counters EVER and to sit up on command.  Diggity has trained K to talk to animals -- a lot.

She's fierce.  Michael's mother bears scars from wounds inflicted by Diggity.  A couple years ago, my mother and Michael's mother, D, stayed at our house.  D had her cat, Missy, there.  We kept Missy closed up in one bedroom for most of their stay, but D tried to introduce Missy to the rest of our animals in hopes they'd get along so Missy wouldn't have to be sequestered.  Carrying Missy, D walked into the living room where Diggity, Petrik (my cat) and Karma (dog) were lounging.  Diggity decided this was a highly threatening situation and went into attack mode.  She leaped onto D's back, embedded her claws and hung there while yowling ferociously.  It was just like watching a lion leap onto the back of its prey in a hunt.  I was able to save D before Diggity made a meal of her or Missy.

She doesn't like when people yelp or scream.  K and I were watching the X Games one evening when some amazing feat made me hoop and holler.  Diggity jumped onto my head and embedded her front claws in my forehead and her back claws in my neck.  I shrieked and leaped about the room begging K to "get her off of me!" while she clung stubbornly to my head.  K was laughing too hard to help, which got me laughing and then Diggity was willing to let go.

A couple days ago, K noticed that Diggity was peeing outside her litter box.  He took her to the vet, suspecting a urinary tract infection.  We discovered that she did indeed have such an infection; but we also learned that she has Stage III kidney disease.  It's incurable and the vet expects she'll die within the next couple years.  She's 13.5 years old right now, so that'll be an average life span for a cat.  The house will be quieter and more peaceful without her and that will stink.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Marilynne Robinson defends religion

One of my favorite authors, Marilynne Robinson (author of novels Gilead, Home, and Housekeeping), will be on The Daily Show tonight.  She'll be talking about her new non-fiction book, "Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of Self."  I haven't read this, but I see from its WaPo review that it is, at least in part, a defense of religion and that she takes on Dawkins and his ilk.  She's an extremely careful, thorough thinker, so I imagine that she does a good job.

Update:  Wow.  That was a bad interview.  I didn't understand anything she said.  Still, I would expect that the book is good.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Someone spends too much time with her gerbils

Good news!  We did not win an award for writing any of the worst sentences of the year.

This year's winner is Molly Ringle for this counterproductive simile:
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss--a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.
I'm betting Molly has also won an award for worst kisser on the planet.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

You're a King, BUT

This is brilliant.  The idea.  The execution.  Perfect.  (And a great marketing ploy for the ad agency itself, Leo Burnett.)