Burning Dog 2010

1 10 2010

So finally we’re moving into fall and with it the last NAFA tournament of the year. Its been very difficult for me to get vacation time due to staffing at work, but even though I wasn’t able to get saturday off i decided to take Jet to run the one day in Reno, Nevada.

I should recap a bit, because I’ve been doing alot of skill work with Jet on his box and striding. He’s been doing alot of wall work at home, but i’ve also added a gutter right on the edge of the right side of the box, which will cause him to over rotate off the box, instead of coming off too wide. I’ve also added 2” to the prop in front of the box, which makes him hit higher as well. Its been working very very well and is makeing a difference in how smooth his box is. I was having issues with him not getting his right hind leg high enough.

Jet earned his Onyx in August and i couldnt be more proud of him. He now has over 20,000 points and goin strong. Riley has been on a flyball break for a few weeks because there are so many things i am doing right now and Riley takes alot of cheerleading in Flyball so a small break is good. Gives me more time to work on Jet’s box.

Saturday night my room mate and I drove up to Reno after work. It was such a relaxing drive, clear skys and leaving home behind for a nice  change of normalcy. It was my room mate’s first time leaving California so have to say i felt her excitement, in addition to the tournament nerves of course! When we got there i relised that i had booked a hotel that was connected to a casino, and ooooh boy it was crazy! Then i learned that there was a 100.00 deposit, that no one had told me about, and that there was a 20.00 per pet fee. That being, i canceled my reservation and went down the street to the Holiday Inn. Man o’ man it was fancy. Well, in terms of what i am used to (Motel 6). There was a wedding going on and there were well dressed attendees in the lobby, and also a bunch of biker folks that were there for the big biker event. And here enter Me and my room mate with a too- excited border collie and a crate in tow. It made a very interesting picture to say the least! The room was cozy and large, complete with firm and soft style pillows! Take your pick!

In the morning there was hot water and the roomie and I had a breakfast of oatmeal in a cup with blueberries. It still felt super fancy since im not used to breakfast!

The day started out great. The site was located inside a local dog park, and needless to say the locals werent happy about that. We only had enough people to run two 6 dog teams, but it was an enjoyable set up, as we are used to having to run 5 teams or so!

Jet has four races that day, 2 of which he got to start and 2 in a passing position. We were able to have one warm up with a prop and i was a little concerned that i wouldnt be able to work his box enough, but as soon as race one began i relised that Jet was going to be more than fine. His box looked great, even from way in the runback, he was setting himself up just right and doing a great 4 footed a fast turn. He was tight coming off the box too, instead of going wide.

But the best part of the day was his second race, where he ran amazingly. First heat he did a 4.2 and then the next two heats he ran both 4.1’s! He’s only ever ran a 4.1 in start oncein NAFA on grass, and never twice in a row. I was so proud of him i was probably the loudest in the lanes. He pretty much got the most enthusiastic tugging session i could give. Jet hasnt ran a 4.1 since his very horrible illness in winter 2008.  Even though he was feeling better begining of this year, his bout with surgery in February crushed us flat again. Im so happy things are turning around and he’s posting fast times!

His last couple races saw him maintaining his great box turn, all 4 footed turn and smooth catch. He only once went a little wide, but it only happened once. Just goes to show we need to keep working our props! Last race Jet was running 4.2’s and 4.3’s and enjoying every mnute of it. It was 90 degrees and he was running fast and happy and literally made my entire weekend. It was worth the one day tournament and the drive up the night before and the happy but tired drive home that night.

We are getting ready for the last tournament of the year, which is finally a ULFI tournament in Madera. Hopefully it will be as fun as this tournament!



9 08 2010

Its been a loooooong time since my last post.

Since January, theres been almost 1 tournament a month. There is one tournament that happened in February that I had to pull Jet for emergency surgery. Since then, he is pysically healed, but we are working on getting back up to speed in other areas. Conditioning needs work, and I am working off and on during the week to keep his box turn consistant. Riley is doing well. She just turned 9, and Jet turned 6. Riley is happy and consistant on her box and has developed a nice level of confidence.

New classes have started where the club is teaching new students and I am the head trainer. Its always fun to teach new people the sport and meet new dogs. 2 team mates have sadly left the club to persue other activities. The team also got a ‘team height dog’ which primary stays with one team mate in her home and the rest of the team pays montly dues to pay for vet care and such for the pup. She’s a very cute and feisty female JRT. She’s going to be great!

We also may be expecting less UFLI tournaments in the future that are local or somewhat in our area. The Mare Island site, with its wonderful indoor soccer field, has raised its prices for renting tournaments. Already 2 teams canceled their scheduled tournaments this year because they would have lost money on their event had they payed the new rate. Now, the Mare Island site was used several times a year and usually UFLI events were hosted there with the occasional NAFA touarnament. So if we lose Mare Island as a site, then Jet and I have to find far off UFLI tournaments or just settle for the Madera tournament and maybe 1 or 2 others a year in a yet to find location. We will see.

Pawdemonium May 2010

On a happy note, Jet is only 189 points from his next title…dun dun dun his ONYX! Hence the name of this post. Its a huge milestone…ive waited 7 years and 2 dogs to even get close to an ONYX, and here it is, almost in our lap.

There are only about 4 more tournaments left this year. One is Bay Racer’s NAFA tourament in August, Bay Racer’s NAFA tournament in Reno, Leap of Faith’s UFLI tournament in October, and then the biggie…a UFLI tournament hosted by Touch N Go in Hurricane, Utah. I haven’t been to a tournament this far away since 2007 when I went to Yuma, Az. Its considerably farther to say the least. One of my team mates is going and she and I will carpool and run some pickup teams probably in the event. Im super excited because i LOVE meeting new teams, learning new techniques, seeing new dogs and taking vacations. Plus, i’ll get to meet the breeder of the new puppy i will get next year. Awesome!

..more later. Until then, happy racing!

Bringing in the New

7 01 2010

Ok, so I am aware that its been SUPER long since my last update, and I better start posting all these updates before the details leave my memory for good.

Some things that have happened in the last few months:

  • Mad Dog’s NAFA tournament in September (Mare Island)
  • Moving
  • Leap of Faith’s UFLI tournament in November (Madera)
  • Puppy Plans
  • MRR’s NAFA tournament in January (Mare Island)

Yes, there are a couple points in there not of the “norm”.  It was alot of thought and planning, but i finally purchased my own home and moved out of Livermore. Its been an experience, as moving usually is, but this time its completely different because I own it, and therefore make the rules. No more “Why is that dog in the house?” (because I say so, thats why), No more family spying around the house checking to make sure everything is as THEY want it. I am free, and so are my dogs in the sence that they can live lke i’ve always intended them to.  The house is bigger than the last, the yard is a football field in comparisen, with trees and grass and a porch out of the rain. The house is carpeted, so its much warmer and comfyier and homey. Nice big kitchen with full fridge, and a garage to store all that extra dog stuff!

To be honest, the details of the Mad Dogs and LOF tournaments are a little hazy, but Jet ran his usual awesomeness, running some 4.2’s and 4.3’s in passing as he didnt have a starting oportunity either tournament. He did however, earn his Top Flight Expert plaque, at 20,000 UFLI points at Madera. We were presented our award at the end of Saturday racing and i was just so proud! We’ve overcome alot in the last year, with Jet’s near brush with fatality, and just to still share my life with him is a gift.

Riley is currently in Hiatus for Flyball. after the move i needed time to adjust and feel comfortable. After all, i am living in a new town, i dont know where anything is, all our usual spots to go biking and fetch are gone and its like starting over again. She had been looking ‘out of it’ for a few tournaments and i thought she’d like a break, especially if she was stressed and feeling my stress to boot.  We will resume when she says its a go.

I always promised myself that when i was ready and owned a home of my own I would get myself a puppy and raise it 100% my way. No little puppy living outside…and this time i’ve learned so much from Jet and can’t wait to get started and see where my experience can take us. So, i contacted a breeder in Texas (On Target Bcs), who has border collies and borderXstaffies. Her dogs have contributed to many flyball teams, such as Touch N Go and Hyperflight. I love the structure i see in her dogs and the temperments and drives they produce. For my next dog, i am looking for a hardy and bold pup, high drive and confident, and is ready to go go go, but maintains an ‘off’ switch when work is done. I am sure i can find this at On Target. However, i am going to be super picky, and really want my next dog to be what i am looking for.

MRR hosted its NAFA tournament this January. I was incharge of some hospitality and line judge training as usual. The tournament went off great. We entered 3 teams and were able to run everything smoothly while also competeing. Some 30 teams attended and we got out late on Saturday, but everyone seemed to be having a great time.  Jet was a freak throughout the week because i was giving him his pre-tournament workouts, not conditioning, just enough excersise to keep him loose and as an outlet. He was to run in second position this tournament, on a team with some of the teams slower dogs. Thus, this placed us in a slower division. As long as Jet has fun i dont care very much about what team he’s on, so looked at this as oportunity to help our slower dogs make time. The problem i kept having, was just like at Reno, not being early with my pass. I was passing two different dogs which were slower than Jet and they were also slowing down each heat. The very closest I was with Jet on the runback was 50 feet. Typically I had him all the way back at 60+ feet just not to be early and was getting 0-1 foot passes.  I was only early twice all tournament, which made me feel pretty good! Jet had some really nice box turns..fast and all four feet consistantly. He ran lots of 4.3’s and some 4.2’s with a pass.  he got to start once, where he ran 4.2’s and my starts weren’t  bad if i do say so myself. He ran with not one paw out of place all weekend, no bobbles in sight, and the only hiccup were my two early passes and one false start,  hardly his fault. As usual, you can coin the phrase, “Handler Error!”

Burning Dog 2009

24 09 2009

Last weekend was the last NAFA tournament of the year for MRR. I dont normally go to tourneys in Reno, but the site was so close to the Truckee one that i figured it would be a shame NOT to go. Besides, that means more NAFA points for us, which is low this year due to a minimal amount of tournaments.

Bay Racer’s held its second annual Burning Dog tourney at a site called Rock Park, in Sparks, Nevada. I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful outdoor Flyball event that i have ever been to. Even more beautiful than Truckee! The grass was lush and plentiful, and the Truckee river was literally about 10 feet outside our camp site. Just on the other side of the river, there was an airport, with planes taking off and landing all day. This didnt really add to the beauty, per-say, but it was mind-boggling how close the planes were over the flyball lanes-like you could reach out and touch them!

The first day was humid and hot, but with cloud cover. Jet was running all day and Riley was only running on Sunday, on a veterans team. Jet’s team was in a slow division, so i was worried he wouldnt have as much fun as usual. Then, early in the morning before racing, we learned that one of the teams in our division scratched, and we would be racing by ourselves for those races. I decided i was going to focus on just running clean, but Jet had other ideas. The first race of the day was the race with no competition, and our height dog was starting, but Jet was totally amped.  He was barking and lunging like crazy. Even with no competition during that first race he ran 4.2 the first heat, then 4.4, and then 4.3 witha pass. He was passing into our JRT and i was having trouble keeping my passes from being too close. I was back at about 55 feet, but getting close to 0 foot passes!

Jet had blast on his second race too. He got to start, and was racing an old rival, an austrailian shephard named Ishu. Not sure why, but ever since he’s started Flyball Jet’s always gone a little bit crazy when running against certain dogs, Ishu one of them. Jet was running 4.2’s and 4.3’s and was so excited i kept having to rearrage him so that he was facing the lane, he kept trying to stare and bark at Ishu.

The weekend went by fairly smooth. Riley ran on Sunday, which was a little hotter but still not bad, and did very well to bring the ball back every time. I was concerned that she may get tired in the heat, but she only had 3 races and ended the day happy and sucessful.  Both dogs loved having the river available to cool off, although i had to stop letting Jet get in because i was afraid he would chip his teeth on the huge river rocks he was trying to fish out.

Next to Bay Racer’s tournament in Hayward, this was one of the best NAFA tournaments I’ve ever attended. Jet ran the weekend between 4.2 and 4.5 seconds, even when his competition was either very slow or non-existent. I was getting much better start times than i usually do, even with Jet going crazy on the line. I even got a perfect start time of .0000 running another dog on the team. They gave me this Hippie Rubber Duck that said “Perfect Start” on it..it was sweet, even though it was super ugly. Haha. I also feel that the elevation when i go to the Truckee and Reno tournament was effecting me. My dogs had no issues, but I was feeling weak in the knees, like when you have low blood sugar and feel like there is no strength in your limbs. I’m pretty sure it was because the lack of oxygen to my muscles from being so high up in elevation.

 Jet ran a huge amount of heats over the weekend. He had 5 races saturday and sunday, which were 4/4’s. Thats 20 heats per day, 40 in a weekend, plus the extra run during the warm up, so thats 50 heats over the weekend. That also does not include the false starts Jet had to deal with for being a start dog. He’s gaining back the level of fitness we’ve been working to achieve again; this is great news!

Jet’s definatly changed his running tactics in terms of his tug. When he runs back with his ball he does this crazy launch into the air from a couple feet back and just slams into it. This usually sends me flying forward with him and gives me the feeling that i’m an antelope getting pulled down by a wolf during a hunt. Is it any wonder why my arms and shoulders are so sore after a tournament?

Jet earned a total of 812 points for the weekend, earning him a total of 16,350 NAFA points. Riley only earned 175, and has 1,747 points. But who knows, maybe one day she’ll have enough for her Master! Dream Big!

Rising in Ranks

13 08 2009

I figured it was time again to take a look at where Jet stands with his total points. I would have updated it in the last entry, but the Bishop tournament was just completed in the database at UFLI.org, so I’ve had to wait.

Jet’s really jumped up in the ranks since last time: i did both his standings out of total Border Collies regiesterd in UFLI, and then out of the total number of DOGS in UFLI.

  • Ranked #30 Border Collie out of 1,249 total BCs
  • Ranked #89 Dog out of 4,279 total Dogs

This is simply awesome! There are ALOT of Border Collies in Flyball, and alot in UFLI. Not only is he number 30, but he’s even in the top 100 point earning Dogs at # 89.


13 08 2009

Have I ever mentioned before how much I enjoy local tournaments? I dont think I have…partially because far away tournaments dont bother me, as I like driving and certain far away venues tend to be our favorites. Anyway, last weekend was the annuel “Racing above the Bay” tourament, hosted by Bay Racers in Hayward, Ca, and named because the venue is literally right above the bay.

Located at the Hayward College, the tournament site in the early morning dawn has a great view-thousands of shining lights from the city below and the view of the bay, makes you feel like you’re close to the top of the world.

Because the tournament was SO local, it only took me about 35 minutes to get there, and of  course i arrived before everyone else, and around the same time as two of our newest team members, donning our new team trailer hauling the boxes and all the gear. Sweet! So, we started setting up the 6 easy-ups and unloading, and noticed the several of our team members had arrived and secured a different area on the OTHER side of the field. Guess i had efficient levels of caffine in my blood already, so i didnt mind too much setting up camp twice.

This is possibly and probably the best NAFA tournament Jet has ever had. Even so, the tournament seemed a recipe for anything but that: the ground is very hard, the grass thin, and the sun hot. Jet was racing on Loose Dogs, of course, and Riley was running 3/4ths time on Unleashed. The club was running 4 teams this time, and it seemed like a breeze compaired to the Truckee tournament. Either that, or we’re just getting used to being super busy.

Loose Dogs ended up in Division 1, with all the faster teams. We were seeded at 19.5 again, much to my confusion, as the dogs on that team are Jinx/Jet/Emma/Magic, in that order. All these dogs (all border collies, ecxept for Emma, who is a Jack) will be running at least 4.5 seconds, with Emma probably around 4.7-5.0 as the height dog. But, it seemed like we’d have some fun races, so i figured i’ll have to wait and see.

Holy smokes Jet was awesome that first race. We were running against a 17 second team, and it was just all i could do to hold Jet back at his place in second. He was wired, barking and lunging and almost snarling at the opposing team, raring to go. The race began, I watched Jinx, our start dog, saw the right moment, and released Jet into the pass from 46 feet back. He flew down that lane, running a 4.3 his first heat. My pass was 2 feet, concerned i would be early the next heat i backed up. But Jet had locked his gaze onto the opposing dog he was racing, and on the second heat broke free from me and charged into the pass and down the lane. Whew! We weren’t early! Thats al i was thinking as Jet slammed the box and was streaking back to me. And then i saw his time: 4.20! Woohoo! And my pass? 3 Feet? I couldnt believe it, a 4.20 with a 3 foot pass…if i had been just a smigden closer on my pass he would have done a 4.1 in a passing position. Either way, Jet had broken his fastest NAFA passing best time, again. He went on to run another 4.3 and then a 4.4.  For the whole heat, he ran the folowing times: 4.3, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.4.  All these times were including a pass; Jet was running like he usually did at Madera!

Not only did that, but on the heat that Jet ran a 4.2, our team ran a new best time of 17.905, the first time we’ve ran a 17 second time in NAFA. It was great to be on another personal best time breaking team.

Riley had a great first race. Her box was excellant, and she was at ease with the dog she was passing because i was getting 1 and 0 foot passes.  She even ran a 5.3! She was doing very well at bringing home the race for Unleashed as anchor dog. I flaggd down Dave Mills, the photographer (he’s great!) at the tournament so hopefully Riley will have some nice shots of her box.

It began to get hot around 11 am,  but this wasnt slowing down Jet, he ran 4.3’s for half of his heats on his second race, and then 4.4’s.  He was running me down and taking these flying leaps at his tug, so i was getting bitten. Still, i was super happy. Who cares about the handler, as long as the dog is happy and safe?

Speaking of safe, i was running my border/staffie buddy Riot on the Stray Dogs team, and was trying to make sure he was breathing (if you hold him by his harness it will cut off his air supply to his throat), and trying to not get bit in the runback. Well, i suceeded and then failed, as i now have a nice, purple, jaw shaped, apple-sized bruise on the back of my leg, from when i took my eyes off him tugging to ask how my pass was.  Its not Flyball until you’re bleeding.

I knew Jet would be getting enough points this tournaemnt for his FMCh title, but it was still a wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishement when the score table announced it over the PA system, after Jet’s title earning race. So here we are, Flyball Master Champions. Lots of our friends from other clubs congradulated us over the weekend.

Riley ended up getting tired during the end of the day. The heat was taking its toll, but she semed happy and was doing her job. I did have to run back to the 40 foot line when she was hitting the box, because it seems like the farther back i am in the runback, the longer she would hold the ball. She started dropping it right at the line, so that sometimes the head judge and line judge had to talk it over weather it was clean, but we ended up getting it by a whisker.

Loose Dogs ended up getting first place in divison 1, and Stray dogs also set a new Multibreed record for our club in NAFA, at 17.7.

I was super tired on Sunday, but Jet wasn’t. He pretty much ran the same times at he had on Saturday. The difference was, that we changed the team lineup and had our lab Emma on that team instead of Jinx, so we werent as fast. Emma was starting, and it became clear that it was going to be much harder to pass her with Jet than it was passing jinx. On the first race, I had to place Jet at the 53 foot mark and release when Emma was coming over the last jump from the box. I had a 0 foot pass, and Jet ran a 4.3. So i backed up, and ended up having to be a 60 feet to not be early.

One of the best moments on Sunday was how Jet ran the second to last race of the day. We had Jinx back in the linup for this one, and the team we were racing was almost all border collies. Jet was going bananas. On his first heat he ran a 4.2 again. Then several 4.3’s and a 4.5. It was amazing, here we were, the second day of the tournament, it is almost 90 degrees outside, and the next to last race of the tournament, and he still runs a 4.2. I was prouder than ever. Jet is running like the champ he is.

The ground was getting too tough for poor Riot’s paws, and his owner had to vetwrap all four feet, even then he tore his stopper pad. Riley was tired and ended up sharing heats for the last couple races, but was a happy dog. She worked really hard one race, when she bobbled the ball almost into the other lane, ran and got it, and found the last jump (which was really out of her way)and made it in time to beat the opposing team’s last dog to win the race.

I had lost of fun racing all the dogs i ran last weekend. Not to mention the hightlights of the tournament, Jet’s new BP NAFA passing time, breaking into the 17’s, FMCh, and Riley bringing it home. This was a wonderfully positive tournament that makes me hopefull that we will end the year great and finally put our past troubles behind us. All thats left is to keep training and conditioning and keep a positive outlook, and hopefully all our tournaments will be great like this one. (And whats better than a local tournament where you spend less than a half-tank of gas all weekend? )

Mollie, Jet, and Riley

Truckin’ in Truckee

25 07 2009

logopatriotOnce again, its that time! Time again for the Patriot Games in Truckee, Ca. NAFA sanctioned, on grass, two rings of racing and clear blue skys overhead. And heat, not to mention the heat. Last year it may have been cooler, but this year was definatly more humid.

Unlike last year’s event, i had no problems driving up and got there earlier than last year as well. I had forgotten how beautiful Truckee is, with all the pine trees and clear crisp rivers. The entire tournament venue is surrounded by tall pines and overlooking the Truckee river. The elevation is pretty high, so the sun feels stronger and it was only thanks to the nice breeze through out the day that kept things from heating up even more.

MRR went out on a limb and entered 5 teams for the first time. We’ve had so many new dogs and some new members joining the club, that the only way all the dogs would get enough racing time was to run 5 teams. We have a running theme when choosing team names, since we practice at the Marin Humane Society. We now have Loose Dogs, Stray Dogs, Unleashed, Unfettered, and Runaways. It was amazing to think that each of these teams had some dogs listed as backup, and a couple dogs were running on more than one team. So, even with 5 teams we had dogs to spare.

Nice Riley-roo box!

Nice Riley-roo box!

Jet ran on Loose dogs and Riley on Unfettered. LD was seeded at 19.3 seconds, but on the first race on Saturday posted a 18.0, a sub-17 second time. I still wasn’t suprised at this, as i have mentioned before our Club seems to seed teams slower than they can run. Loose Dogs ran in the 18’s all day, but mostly 18.2’s and 18.3’s.  Jet’s fastest time at a NAFA tournament is 4.19, which was in a starting position last year. Usually, in a passing position, he runs a 4.4 pretty consistantly. As a rule, when a dog is passing, you add 0.33 seconds to the dogs time for every 1 foot pass the dog has. I was just hoping to have a clean tournament and not push Jet so hard since he was still out of fitness from his back issue. But, not only did Jet run his usual 4.4’s with a pass but he also proceded to break his personal best NAFA passing time and ran several 4.3’s! His passes were still around 3 feet, so if i had tightened up even more he could would have ran some 4.2’s.  As a rule, dogs have to work harder on grass tournaments than on mats, and the grass at Truckee was thick and tall. If Jet can run this way when he’s has less conditioning, i cant wait to get him back up to peak performance.                            

Four on the Box!

Four on the Box!

Riley’s team Unfettered was seeded at 23.00. Most of the dogs on her team were veteran dogs, as she herself is. The bad thing was, the heat was affecting these dogs and slowing them down, so that we were struggling to make time. Any team time over 24.00 seconds and no dogs on that team earn points. Riley worked hard all day but i’m not sure that she made many points. Still, she tried hard and was a trooper for being back from her infection.

I also run a team mates dog, a border/staffy mix that is all muscle and very vocal. He’s super fun to run, and i’m pretty much the only team mate that will run him other than his owner. He was super crazy this tournament, hard to hold and to run. Usually he’s easy, but Riot was waring me out. On Saturday he missed the tug on his way back to me and circled around and grabbed the tug and my leg in his jaws. I had a bruise the size of a large apple. Then, on Sunday, he jumped up and his head wacked me in the nose. I managed to complete the race, but it was a bit hard when my eyes were tearing up. my nose was super red and swollen, but thats all. His owner assumed i’d never run him again, but, i totally will. Flyball is still fun, despite the risks. : )

Jet started the tournament with around 13,800 points. He needs 15,000 points for his next title, which is Flyball Master Champion. The points haven’t been updated in the books yet, but he at least got into the high 14,000’s. The next NAFA tournament is in three weeks in Hayward, ca. It is MRR’s last NAFA tournament of the year, (this year, there was only 3 total, the rest were UFLI!) he should get enough points for this.

There was an excellent photographer at Truckee, and i was super excited to get a really great picture of Riley. I wish that they had gotten the same angle on Jet’s picture as well, as i really liked his pic too. Both my dogs have nice 4 footed box turns.

The Patriot Games is fast becoming my favorite NAFA tournament, we’ll have to go next year too!