Monday, May 28, 2012

Pallo the Viking's Historical Adventure

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There Pallo was, innocently sliding down the sand dunes on his belly on a holiday weekend afternoon.


Even eating a bit of sand, so he would have a Tasty Tuesday picture to share.


Though it didn't end up being very tasty sand. Bleh.


But what was peaking out from behind the rocks?


Wait, that can't be right. But then, it came a bit closer.


And Pallo abandoned his afternoon sand snack to investigate closer. After all, he isn't named Pallo the Viking for nothing!


"Wow, seriously Mom, do you see a huge ancient sailing ship too?" Pallo asked in wonder.


As the ship came closer, we saw that it was indeed an old-time sailing vessel. What was this? Were we catapulted back in time somehow?


When the ship sailed into the harbor, its guns firing with a loud BOOM and puffs of smoke coming from her canons, Pallo decided we had better hightail it back to our ship.


"I see her entering the harbor now! Battle stations!" Pallo yells.


Out flags were flying high and waving in the breeze.


And Pallo bravely manned the cannons to return fire.


"They're closing in on us fast! And blazing their guns as they come!"


"Maybe we'd be better off hiding back here in some rope, so they can't shoot us straight off the deck!"


But, though he was overcome by a moment of fear, Pallo bravely charged back on deck and to the station of the canon to return fire on the approaching enemy ship.


Pallo kept a firm grip on the canon, preparing to return fire.


"Umm.. Hey, Mom, can you show me how to use this canon thing? It doesn't seem like it's working."


But the enemy ship, intimidated by our mere presence in defending the harbor, took sail back out to sea, in fear of our fierce weapons.


"Don't worry guys, we defended the harbor and saved the day!"


And our faithful ship will live to sail and defend the harbor another day!


*No dogs, ships, harbors, canons, or humans were harmed in the writing of this post.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lure coursing and flyball

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This week we lucked out and had practice in two sports, both lure coursing and flyball. We headed out for a very small group lure coursing practice on Tuesday evening, with a total of six dogs there to run the lure.

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I ran each of my dogs by themselves twice, then, just for kicks, ran them together for the last one.

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I had someone else release my dogs for me, so that I had a chance to get some pictures of them. My conclusion is that I need a longer lens to get seriously good lure coursing pictures. And that Koira is WAY faster than Pallo (at least in lure coursing, since their times are about the same in flyball). I did also act as catcher for the two whippets who came out to practice (the other two dogs were a miniature Poodle and a shepherd mix puppy).

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Watching those whippets run is always pretty amazing.

Then, on Thursday, we headed off to our regular team flyball practice. Since I learned a lot about my camera's settings while at the flyball tournament last weekend, I decided to try for some new pictures of the dogs using my new knowledge. I think there is a lot of room for improvement still, but that these are way better than the ones I took last time I pulled out the camera at practice.

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Team dog Joy, still learning her box turn

And, of course, the highlights of practice are some basic achievements. Pallo ran steady. It is basically just expected of him now.

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Tank, a solid team dog

Koira, on the other hand, had some awesome work (which for her is worth remarking on). After racing on Saturday at the tournament, I got some great advice from a couple of very experienced flyball trainers about how to work on Koira's box turn. I tried it out for the first time at practice, and I have to say, it looks like this may be the method we needed to find.

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Zip, a slightly crazy but ultimately loving and adorable team dog, who has become way more reliable than anyone would have thought possible a year ago. 

Basically, Koira didn't have a single double hitting issue. She wasn't super solidly amazing every time, but her turns looked good, she snapped off the box quickly, straight to her tug, and she had NO double hitting or readjusting of her feet. Hopefully with steady training sessions she will be able to relearn a proper box turn this time. One that sticks!

PS: You may have noticed a slight change in the sidebar, if you are observant. Yes, Pallo earned three new titles this past weekend, his first U-Fli titles. Way to go little man!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Awesome Flyball Weekend

Just a quick post to share a little about the weekend. I spent all day Friday cleaning the car, packing up, and then driving down to Gridley, CA for the flyball tournament. We arrived a little after 7pm, and ended up heading to dinner with one of the teams down there who were all camping at the tournament site. It was plenty warm for tent camping.

I set my alarm for 6:15 the first morning. With check in at 7, followed by measuring, then racing at 8, I wanted to give myself plenty of time to shower, walk the dogs, and eat. The jack russel alarm from the next camp site over, however, was set for 5:30, so I ended up with an even earlier start (the JRT alarm held off until 5:45 on Sunday morning).

I know most of my readers don't run flyball, so I try not to do play-by-plays of the weekend that most people don't end up understanding. So, here is the quick version.

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Pallo measured in U-Fli for the first time, and sets 6 inch jumps. U-Fli has a different measuring system, using the length of the bone in the foreleg to determine jump height, instead of the dog's height at the withers. We ran 3/3 on Saturday and 5/5 on Sunday (meaning each race is made up of 3 or 5 heats). Pallo ran like a rock star. His best time for the weekend was a 5.1, and he pulled off plenty of 5.2 and 5.3s for the weekend. He held his ball solid, and ran perfect. The only error we had all weekend was mine, an early pass late in the day on Saturday.

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Gold Coast Flyers, the team we were running with for the weekend, was hosting the tournament, and did a great job. Everyone was super helpful and friendly. I did lunch and dinner with them, and we had a good time. After dinner, I even had two awesome, very experienced flyballers take a look at Koira's box turn and got some advice about how to train it.

All the people we met were awesome. I spent a lot of time taking pictures, trying to get some of every dog and every team. I think I finally figured out how to change my camera settings to get decent pictures in the dim indoor lighting of dogs moving at lightening speed- it was a trade off between grain and blur, and I chose grain. And, a ton of people were awesome and used my camera, set on the tripod, focused, and ready to go, to take pictures of Pallo while he ran as well. For my first time taking pictures at a tournament, I think it went really well. I'm looking forward to taking pictures at our outdoor tournament in July though, for the better lighting.

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We ended early on Sunday, at just after 2. Pallo was super tired, and conked out in his kennel until I packed up. I stayed to help with some of the clean up and for the awards ceremony, then headed on home. I stopped in Yreka, CA, just south of the Oregon border, for dinner and to check out the solar eclipse, which was total in that area. I ended up getting home about 11:30 last night.

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More pictures from the tournament to come later!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Off to California, and Extreme Challenge pictures

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Well, me and the dogs are packing up the car and headed south. To Gridley, CA specifically.

189. "Half Of A Whole" - Take a picture that shows one half of your dog, from whatever angle you chose today! - last day May 13

Pallo will be running in his first-ever U-Fli tournament. This should be a ton of fun! I haven't been to a tournament since last fall, and it feels like it has been FOREVER!

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Before we take off, I wanted to share a few pictures from our adventure last weekend with Extreme Challenge trying out some dock diving with the pups. Koira really loved it, and I think she will do awesome if we keep practicing.

This little girl is an awesome jumper, and hilarious to see her expressions that I captured during her jumps.

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Here she is again with her handler throwing the toy.
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Here is one of the pictures of Koira jumping. I think the people taking pictures of my dogs were afraid to zoom in too much and miss the dog completely, but I'm happy to have any pictures at all.

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This one was hilarious. They were trying to show the dog on the dock that other dogs were happy to jump in the water. The bumper was basically dropped into the water, and Emma, the one in the air, just dove straight off the dock for it.

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Another one of Koira jumping. She has such a silly jumping style.
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I think this is my favorite one of Koira. The splash in the water just makes me happy, with her jumping into the air and me in the background.
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This is as close as Pallo got to jumping off the dock. Silly little boy. He had fun swimming from the shore, but nothing would convince him it was a good idea to leap into the water. Finally, something Koira is way better at than Pallo...

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This is probably my favorite shot of the day. This dog was out with some pretty serious injuries for a while, and this was his first practice back. I was super impressed. Plus, this is just pretty hilarious anyway. I still need to get around to actually editing these pictures, so you can really see the colors and amazingness.
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And here is the same dog with his handler.
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Hope everyone has a great weekend! We'll have to let you know how U-Fli racing goes for us, and see everyone again on Monday. I am hoping that during the drive home on Sunday I will be in the Medford, OR area around 6:23 for the peak of the solar eclipse. If so, I will try to get pictures.