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Month: December 2012

Making lemonade….

Making lemonade….

This fall the boys and I have had our share of ups and downs.  I have cherished the ups and try to make the best of the downs.  One of the ups that I am most proud of is that Zip made USDAA’s top ten in all five classes!! What a little rockstar he is!! I have also been very pleasantly surprised by receiving lots of new titles for all three boys from USDAA.  So proud of my dogs!! Not so much about the titles, but the fact that we earned these titles means that we are running courses as a team, that is always the best reward.

Ok…now on to the downs…  Two days before leaving for CA for the US Open, Zip injured his hip.  The initial diagnosis was a dislocated hip.  However that was never confirmed as the x-rays showed the hip was in place.  The vet that treated him that afternoon heard a pop as she was examining him so it was assumed this is what happened.  However the x-rays did not show any typical damage from a hip dislocation so we are thinking maybe it was a partial dislocation where the hip did not come out.  Given that we had no evidence as to what happened, we treated the hip as if it had been dislocated.  This meant Zip was in a sling, unable to use his left hind leg for 4 weeks.  Needless to say we missed going to the US Open that following weekend.  That was definitely disappointing as the US Open was a WAO team qualifying event with 2 win on spots on the line as well as lots of points toward team selection.  However in the spirit of making lemonade when handed a bunch of lemons, I was very grateful Zippy did not need surgery.

Zippy was a super patient the entire 4 weeks.  I could only imagine how hard it would have been to have your leg jacked up in what looked like an awkward position for 4 weeks.  The first 2 weeks the leg was held up in an Ehmer sling, using lots and lots of very sticky tape.  While it did hold up very well, it was terrible for his skin.  It tore the inside of his thigh terribly.  When the tape was on its last leg, I opted not to re-tape but to invest in a neoprene sling made by a company called Dogglegs.

Zip with the Ehmer sling version 1.0









Here is the new and improved sling:









We can now fast forward to today.  The sling has been off for about a week and half.  Zip is doing great.  He is putting lots of weight on the left leg and using it normally.  We took x-rays the day the sling came off to make sure everything stayed in place.  Both my local vet and the orthopedic vet looked at the x-rays and were very pleased.  No signs of joint damage, hip joint looked good and no signs of trauma.  Let the rehab begin!! The big thing with Zip’s rehab is getting his muscle back in that leg.  We went back to VOSM two days ago to have the ortho vet take a look at him as well as get a PT session in.  They took a leg measurement and his right leg is about 24.5 cm and his left leg is 23 cm.  The rule of thumb is when the injured leg is about the same size as the other leg we can resume normal work.  Luckily Zip has a team of superstar vets and physical therapists and agility friends who are doing an amazing job at making this happen.  We have lots of daily exercises to do as well as lots of leash walking.

Here is a short clip of Zip walking 4 days post sling:

Here is a clip of one of our walks 5 days ago:

Zippy is making great progress, I could not be happier.  After our visit at VOSM on Wednesday they want us to do 4 more weeks of leash walking before he is allowed to run free.  I imagine in the next four weeks his leg muscles will be greatly improved and he will be up and running in no time.

So this winter is shaping up to be a quiet one.   I don’t think the dogs are complaining though…as soon as that weather turns cold they are more than happy to snuggle up on the couch and snooze the afternoon away.

Are jumpers courses more confusing?

Are jumpers courses more confusing?

This is my first attempt at writing on an assigned topic on my blog. I feel like I am back in school with a paper to write and true to form here I am waiting until the last minute to complete the assignment.


I have a ritual when walking any type of course.  I go through my ritual during each walk through regardless of they type of course.  I don’t differentiate between a jumpers or standard course although I do understand that jumpers courses may have the potential to be confusing although I don’t really like to label all jumpers courses as being “confusing.”  I also use visualization while walking courses.  Usually when walking a course one of the things I make mental notes of is what each jump looks like.   My criteria for knowing a course is being able to shut my eyes and visualize each individual jump as they come up in the sequence of the course.  I recall the color, whether the jump has wings, if it is a panel or spread, the more details the better.  Along with visualizing the physical characteristics of the jump I also visualize my path throughout the course and how I will be handling each challenge.  Sometimes there may be a couple of options on how to handle a particular challenge so I will walk both options.  Sometimes after walking it a couple of different ways, one way will seem more natural and comfortable for me and that may sway my decision on how to handle something.  Other times creating the straightest, clearest and fastest path for my dog makes the most sense so my handling will be decided on this.  Most times it is a combination of both these factors.


While competing at the World Agility Open Championships in Belgium earlier this year my visualization skills were put to the test.  All the jumps in all the rings had wings and were the same color.  Initially when I looked at the jumpers ring before the walk through all I saw was a sea of red and white jumps.  As I started to walk the course, I knew I needed to pay special attention to all the details of the course.  I could not just say “it’s the blue jump to the black jump to the green jump.” If you really paid attention, each jump was in fact unique.  Some had a panel on the bottom, others had just poles.  Some were single bars others were spreads.  I did make small mental notes on these differences but I knew I also had to use other skills in order to feel confident with knowing the course.  I had to recall specific details of each jump and what would be happening at that location. There were sequences where we had several single bar jumps in a row with no real way to differentiate between them. Under these circumstances, I really relied on recalling my handling decisions during these parts of the course.  Instead of relying on the physical attributes of the jumps I focused more on how I was handling that particular sequence.  For example, was the sequence a threadle, a serpertine or maybe a 180?  I also would chain together my sequences, for example, in my mind I break up the course into little clusters, the course may start with a threadle and backside to a pinwheel to a serpentine.  Instead of trying to just memorize numbers 1-20, I think of a course in terms of these clusters.  Truth be told, I usually never even look at the numbers on course unless I have not had a chance to see it on paper first.  I am attaching a video from the Individual Pentathlon Jumpers course from WAO.  Unfortunately I caused a refusal at jump #3, but this is a very good example of a course with similar jumps.  The best advice I can offer for not getting confused on a jumpers course is to not let the possibility of become confused get into your head.  Have a course walking ritual and stick to that ritual regardless of the type of course you are walking.


Good luck and happy training!