Friday, July 31, 2009

happy belated birthday, Ezri!

OK, so this is directly copied from the birthday email I just sent Ezri's breeder. At least on the blog I can put the pictures directly into the text instead of just attaching them!

At long last on July 15th, Ezri turned one year old and became eligible to compete in flyball. She debuted at the Patriot Games tournament in Truckee CA, running fun runs (singles and pairs) on Friday night and competing in NAFA competition on Saturday and Sunday. She won Singles on Friday night with a 4.195 (a 4.145 with a 0.05 start), and she and her big sister Indigo took second place in Pairs with an 8.24 to the winner's 8.22. Her debut weekend went splendidly, with only a few heat/excitement related issues, and she earned both her FD and FDX on Saturday. She was part of a new club record-setting lineup that ran a 19.46, running with Taz (black lab), Phoebe (my JRT), and Skye (a red border) - and that's not even our fastest set of dogs! On Sunday Ezri started the second race of the day, and ran a clean run of 4.16 seconds to set her first personal best. After a long trip home in the car and a few days of rest, we headed up to Maple Ridge BC for another flyball tournament, where Ezri earned her FDCh and got to within just 30 points of her FDCh-S by the end of the day on Sunday. During her second weekend of competition, her only reruns were due to false passes by my handling, and she got pretty good at spitting the ball to turn around and rerun as fast as possible. Despite the heat, Ezri ran a 4.135 in last position on Sunday, meaning her clean time was likely lower than that, but still dropping her personal best to that time. We'll be heading up to Cloverdale BC during the last weekend of August for a UFLI tournament, where she'll run pairs with Indigo (team name Ignition Sequence), and where we will run our theoretical fastest lineup including both Indigo and Ezri.

While being a perfect flyball dog on the course (complete with pulling and whining her head off), Ezri is generally a good girl at home although she definitely shows her "I'm a 15-year-old PRINCESS" moments. We're still working on improving her attention to us, as she is still often highly focused on her brother Curzon, and will ignore commands, treats, and even shake off a bop on the nose and go back to staring at her brother. Luckily Curzon remains focused on us, and so since Ezri will follow him then there is little danger of having any issues with her outside with him. If he's not around, Ezri is a perfect lady both on and off leash - now we just have to translate that to working with him around! She is rather protective of me and our property, and has been going through a stage of huffing or barking at anyone outside the car when she's in it, and she'll huff when someone she doesn't know gets too close to us when on a walk or at a hotel. However, she is very friendly and excited towards people who want to pay attention to her, and in a way it's a shame she hasn't met anyone who doesn't think she's lovely as now she expects everyone to adore her! Her favorite person to maul is Ben, who has encouraged this since she was a puppy and is now reaping the benefits of his continued ruffling of her, as she will climb and jump and paw at him when she first sees him. Ezri has taken to swimming with abandon, leaping into the river at the offleash park, although she is -not- fond of the "public pools" at the flyball tournaments and won't get in them, thus making me hose her down instead. The schedule isn't going to line up to try her out in dock dogs this year, but I am hopeful for next year to work out as I'd love to see her leap. We've started working with various frisbee tricks with her, and her beautiful natural flip looks gorgeous when going after a disc tossed behind her. Her catching still needs work, but at only one year she has time to learn that sort of thing!

Ezri is a fast learner, and is highly treat motivated and focused on her person. She does need to be worked with someone for a bit in order to listen to them, which is a bit frustrating for my husband! We will be going to a convention next month and she and Curzon will stay with a friend (the other two are being split amongst two other teammates), and I think the experience will be quite good for her as she hasn't been separated from me since the day I brought her home. We will be gone for almost a week in September, and she'll be staying with Ben and Deb with the other two BC's (and of course Indigo and Epic). And of course we'll have Indigo and Epic while they are gone at the end of August, so there will be plenty of time for the blood-related sisters to get used to each other! Right now our pack is still in the reorganizing phase to accommodate Ezri's new adulthood, and it won't surprise me if she winds up as alpha female in the dog group despite Jadzia's seniority and Phoebe's continued attempts to make a coup (Curzon is wisely staying out of the way). She's done quite well with Phoebe's attempts on her (the terrier just will NOT learn!) and treats them as play invitations, which I think drives Phoebe entirely batty but is a perfectly reasonable response.

We've worked hard to make Ezri resilient to new situations, having various trigger issues for the two older BC's that we wanted to avoid, and I think we've been rather successful. She's been around our friend's 3yo with no problems, and while curious at another friend's 1-month-old infant, after she sniffed his feet she was done with him and ready to move on to more interesting activities. Her abilities will be tested in just two weeks as our friends from NJ arrive with their 2.5yo and 4yo children to stay with us for a week - it should be quite entertaining! Even the Fourth of July fireworks didn't faze her, with nary a startle, a bark, or any other fear/startle response in sight. She could probably use another structured training class, which I may try to set up in the fall, but has done quite well with clicker training here at home. She also did beautifully with speedboat rides when I spent a couple days on the lake at my best friend's inlaw's cabin. The cats don't bother her, although admittedly they rarely interact due to Phoebe's issues with them, and she is also little interested in the outdoor wildlife of squirrels and such that Phoebe finds so attractive. She is good in the kennel at home, and spends most of her time lying on the second story of the plastic play structure we bought them (playskool thing off Craigslist), chewing on the various edges. Chewing is indeed her one bad habit - she absolutely RIPS through toys, to the point where we can only have out "tough chewer" toys such as the Tuffy rings and silicone-rubber toys. Luckily she has not tried to chew anything belonging to us since she was about three months old, and never went after her bedding, so we can deal with the toy issue. She's a good traveler in the car, careful to sleep most of the time and not pick fights, and also hangs out in the hotel well especially if she has a toy to chew.

Happy birthday, merlebutt. May there be many more!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

motorcycle accidents are no fun

Monday morning at about 6:00am I was in a motorcycle accident for the first and hopefully last time.

It rained Sunday and overnight for the first time in weeks, leaving the roads wet and slippery as I well knew. I decided to take Lake City Way in to work, in order to avoid the visibility issues caused by fast vehicles and water spray on the highways. I rode down Meridian and turned right onto Lake City Way, and just past the bowling alley is where construction is still going on. Due to the conditions, I was in the right lane doing about 40 in a 45 and watching my following distance in order to maximize my safety cushion.

Just before 68th Avenue, there were plates in the road - several hundred feet of them, many more than were there last Friday, and they were not even. I was on them and holding steady until I hit a slick spot or a seam or something, at which point the bike went down - it was less than a second from upright doing 40 to on my back sliding down the road. I have one flash in my memory of the control panel going down and to my left, but didn't recognize what had happened until I realized I was sliding. The bike went down on its left side and I landed on my butt, and the bike and I both slid on a slight angle away from each other through the intersection at 68th and to a stop about 50 feet later. The bike stopped perpendicular to traffic in the left lane, and I stopped on the right side of the right lane next to the construction barrels on yet another steel plate.

After ensuring I was indeed stopped, I got up and went over to the bike which was still running and hit the kill switch. A couple guys pulled over and helped me get it into the Jiffy Lube parking lot just to the side, then left me there with it. I found the footpeg which snapped off and the laminar windshield lip which came off as well, but the turn signal was in the intersection and already in dust by the time I realized it was gone. My helmet doesn't show any marks (don't know how) but the entire back of my gear is covered in grit and scrapes, including inside the jacket and on my liner and fleece where it rode up a bit.

I am uninjured, but have a good bruise on my butt (I think I hit part of a plate when I went down). My neck is a little sore/stiff but it always is after a tournament (and was the morning before I left for work) so I don't think that was caused by the wreck. The bike has lost the left footpeg and left turn signal, the clutch assembly snapped off, and the shifter is wedged up against the body of the engine. The lower left faring is damaged and there is skid damage on the upper left faring and on my left saddlebag.

The tow guy helped me force it back into neutral (it was stuck in 3rd) so we can move it without damaging the drivetrain, so I am hopeful that the bike is fixable without too much expense. The bike is back in my garage and will be taken to Ride West this morning when they open. I got a police report and the insurance claim has already been started as well. It could have been so much worse, but I wish it hadn't happened at all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

time flies when you're having fun

It's already July, and it's now less than a week until Ezri's first birthday marks her eligibility to compete in flyball tournaments. The past month of practice has been spent refining and solidifying her flyball talents and abilities, and I'm pretty confident that she's going to be debuting with flying colors on the 17th. I'm able to cross-pass her with most dogs in the club, I can swap lanes without doing a new holdback, she will run in any position, and she's not mouthy at the rest of the team but is instead deadly serious like Jadzia. She's no longer having issues with dropping her ball, and comes flying back to her tug like it's the best thing in the world.

And last Sunday we timed her at 4.36.

This weekend will be the last tournament Ezri does not compete in, (Muddy Paws are hosting in Salem, OR) and she will debut in competition pairs and singles on Friday, July 17th and in NAFA team competition on Saturday, July 18th (RF Revolution hosting in Truckee, CA). Ezri will run with her big sister Indigo in pairs competition under the team name "Ignition Sequence," both at the fun runs in Truckee and in UFLI competition at the end of August. For Truckee, I seeded them at a time of 8.4, but that may be too slow - if Indigo runs a 3.8 and Ezri runs a 4.3, that's an 8.1, and if Ezri speeds up in competition they are easily capable of breaking 8.0 together. It will be quite exciting to see how it goes!

Last week was my company's summer shutdown, and I spent two days at Lake Whatcom with Christy and Jason in the house that his parents use as a rental most of the year. I had dogs in the lake within 3 minutes of arrival - Curzon and Jadzia remembered it from our 2007 visit, and Ezri needed only one push to commence with flinging herself off the dock in pursuit of a ball. Phoebe of course is not fond of swimming and really not fond of jumping off of a dock, so we played "Terrier Bowling: Dock Dogs Edition" where she was gently pitched off the dock after a ball was thrown for her to go get. Ezri got to go on her first hike as well, as we did a short trail at the foot of Mt. Baker, and learned the "rules" of hiking from Curzon quite well along the way. Finally, we had a speedboat ride with Jason's dad, and Ezri thought that was incredibly awesome to the point of simply pointing her nose forward into the wind as far as I would let her lean. There are indeed pictures and video, but I don't have them accessible right now for posting, so hopefully I will get those up soon.

Work, flyball, and Warcraft keeps us busy in a smoothly rotating schedule. Our 25-man raiding team in WoW is working on the final boss in Ulduar (Yogg-Saron) and beginning to try the hard-modes on other bosses. Work is going pretty smoothly, with my new project behaving well so far, and Chris' job is busy and stable as well. We are looking forward to the remainder of our summer, with three tournaments straight to finish off July, a visit from friends in August, a trip to Blizzcon in Anaheim, and a UFLI tournament to round off August. PAX is the first weekend in September, and my brother-in-law's wedding is the third weekend in Ohio. It will be busy, but I am looking forward to all of it!