Friday, September 21, 2012

How ponies cause sleep deprivation... oh and the whole World Champs thing...

Yes, I am writing to you from a sleep deprived state, so if the ramblings are a bit dis-jointed... blame the cat.

A little over a month ago, The Nerd (for those that have only started reading the blog recently, we lovingly refer to hubby as The Nerd) discovered a small pony (disguised as a cat) on their campus (that is what the insiders call the massive office complex where he works).  I wouldn't call her a stray, strays don't come running full speed to anyone that calls her.  A stray doesn't go willingly into a travel crate.  I stray doesn't beg random passers by for a belly rub.  I am sure Madam V2.0 used to have a loving home, but she had no microchip (she now does, courtesy of the Reed household) and no-one responded to the adverts.  Now she has a new loving home.

So after inoculations, chipping, de-worming/ticking and fleeing and 3 weeks of 'quarantine' (which implies a room with a double bed, a sun spot for those late afternoons, and an all you can eat buffet), I started the slow and painful process of introducing a new adult cat into our household.  I won't bore you with the details, however there is one specific behavioural problem that we are struggling with a slight bit.  My Little Pony believes that all, all, all, all, all pillows in the whole, entire, wide world, belongs to HER.  I pretty much think I have figured her out:

Satyr's (all our cats have names that derive from mythology) Super Secret Plan to show Human People she owns ALL pillows in the world:

1.  Wait for human person to achieve REM sleep.  Position self next to head of human person (that is occupying my pillow property).  Lightly tap human person on the head with your foot (be careful to keep nails in at all times).
2.  If human person does not respond, start tapping harder, slowly build up the force of the attack, if necessary smack human person against head as hard as you possible can.  Be careful to keep nails in at all times.
3.  If human person STILL does not respond, lie on their face.  Asphyxia is a relatively reliable way of ensuring that human person wakes up.
4.  When human person sits up, gasping for breath, ensure that you assume position on pillow immediately.  Be sure to stretch out as big as you possible can, so their is no space for human person head.
5.  If step 3 fails, it is time for desperate measures... proceed to jump on nightstands, knocking off as many books and alarm clocks as you can.  If there is a glass of water, ensure that you knock it over in the direction of the human person and not on the floor.

In case you didn't get the memo... I know yesterday was supposed to be my birthday, but I really just don't have the time at the moment, so I have decided I will just age two years in 2013.  I WILL however enjoy my biggest birthday present EVER... a trip to the World Champs with my boys!

All jokes aside... this time next week, we will be on our way from Germany to Czech Republic.  But as in really now, no jokes!  As in me and the Stein and the Spaz will be driving around in Europe on our way to compete at the World Champs!  Going to the world champs is not easy... after you qualify for the team, you have to start training... that involves building lots and lots and lots of courses from the World Champ judges. You phone 23 different venues and beg to use their astroturf to do some training... get told NO a lot of times (sometimes quite rudely).  When you eventually find a place that will allow you to train, you have to drive far and pay some bucks to be able to train.  You have to keep dogs fit and conditioned, being very careful not to over-do or under-do anything.  You have to get a visa, which involves submitting your whole life history in the form of print-outs.  You have to drive FAR to hand in all these papers, then drive FAR again to pick up your passport (or get someone else to drive FAR for you).  You have to get titre tests done and then... when they make a mistake on those titre tests... you have to drive FAR to go and have it fixed!  You have to speak to a million vets/state vets/departments of agricultures in many countries to make sure you have the paper work in order for the dogs.  Then you have to drive FAR to hand in all that paperwork to the state vet (or get someone else to drive FAR) for you.  You have to find crates, water bowls, water bottles, crate liners (light weight ones mind you).  Of course there are travel arrangements with team leader and rest of the team.  You have to check the websites of the World Champ judges on a regular basis, to make sure you keep up with their trends.  You always have to try and do better.  And because we don't receive any real financial support, you have to work hard, take on lots of clients  and save lots of money in between as well!

Believe it or not, I am not moaning, I can't believe the culmination of all that hard work is so close now!  Next week Thursday we board the plane to Frankfurt.  I am of course a bit worried about the dogs flying, I KNOW they will be fine, but I will always worry about my boys.  We are competing at a 'normal' show in the Czech Republic on 30 September as well... really looking forward to that too.  I can't wait to meet new agility people, see new things, learn new moves, see amazing dogs.  And of course I can't wait to run with my awesome boys!

Of course with the time fast approaching, many a person has asked me what my goals are, how I feel about our chances, how I feel about our team.  All I can say is I feel ready, I feel I have really done all I could to prepare.  Whether I have the potential to 'win' is irrelevant, because I am going to RUN to win.  I just want to give it my all.  I want to give it my all for my boys, they deserve that.  I love those dudes!

It is a slightly bitter sweet moment... the last time I competed at the World Champs was with Echo in 2003... and I lost my amazing 'first born' child at the beginning of this year.  During all my preparation, I couldn't help but be nostalgic a few times.  But I am sure he will be cheering me on at the top of his lungs where ever he is.

I shouldn't actually be sitting here writing this post, I have WAY too much to do, but I just had to write this, to say thank you to the amazing super awesome of the fantasticness husband, who has done so much to make this possible.  Thanks to all my friends, who have supported me, who have been honest with, who have helped me and who is rooting for me.  Thanks to all the supporters that have been behind the South African Team.

I will try to update Facebook/the blog from Czech when I do get the chance, but no guarantees.

If you are going to the World Champs this year, please come and say hi!  Just rock up at the South African section, sure you won't be able to miss us!  Would love to meet all of you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ain't no killin', just some livin' and vicious circles...

This subject has been whirling around my mind for a while now, Hurricane Alett busting away at my skull... maybe I am just a bit tired of the self-entitled feeling that buzzes around Agility, but here is the kicker ladies and gents, it is NOT just around Agility, it is in everything in life!

I have been reading a ton of forums and articles and FB status updates and basically a whole load of internet moaning and groaning about 'is ___________ (fill in current contentious issue here) killing agility?'.  Not only have I been reading this, but I have been hearing a lot about it too IRL.  I have heard it all... that measuring, jump heights, course speeds etc etc are 'killing Agility'.  I have bad news for these doomsday prophets... nothing is killing Agility!  It is alive and kicking, I promise... otherwise all us addicts wouldn't be getting up at cock's fart every weekend , driving thousands of kilometres (or miles, your choice), spending thousands of Rands (or dollars or pounds or euros) to DO Agility.

Unfortunately there will ALWAYS be cases of borderline dogs (height wise), some of these borderline dogs will struggle with the jump height, others won't, they will kick @$$.  I am a judge, I have measured tons of dogs, do you have ANY idea how hard it is?  No judge will intentionally 'measure a dog into a wrong height category', but I, myself have measured dogs to vary by 1 or 2cm depending on how they are stacked or the surface used to measure or five million other reasons.  This doesn't mean measuring is killing Agility.  There will always be dogs that just can't make the course time, the same way there will always be dogs/breeds that are just not suited to the sport.  If you create a fourth or fifth jump height there will STILL be borderline dogs, there will STILL be dogs that struggle with these new jump heights and there will STILL be people moaning.  If you lower course speeds, there will still be dogs that just can't cut it and then THESE people will still moan for lower speeds.  This does not mean speeds and jump heights area killing Agility.

There will always be those guys that just don't make the time for the Comrades marathon too.  There will always be that guy that finishes fourth in the Olympics, just out of the medals.  There will always be a goals awarded in soccer that should not have been.  There will always be controversy in sport, a woman's sexuality questioned, a man's prosthetics be accused of giving him an advantage against able-bodied athletes.

Controversy and sport go hand in hand, because sport is all about passion... that I can understand and accept.  It is the self-entitlement and downright blinkered selfishness that annoys me.  All of us don't feel that we HAVE to be able to win a medal or the Olympics, win the Boston Marathon or play International Football.  People are happy to accept their range in other sports and participate casually.  Unfortunately in Agility it seems many (obviously not all) handlers feel that everyone HAS to be able to achieve the highest accolades/titles and wins in our sport.  And if they can't achieve that, then something is 'killing the sport'.

Us, as Agility handlers are still so much luckier than any other sportsman... we always get to take the best dogs home!  I mean I have never seen Volt give a crap about getting time faults, he couldn't care less in fact.  Chaos has never caught a depro by getting a spectacular dq, okay wait maybe that once when I tripped over him and fell on my face he was a bit upset.... with concern for ME.  I mean how cool is that?  How many people get to enjoy a sport with a partner that really does not CARE about the outcome, as long as they get to slobber all over your face when you wake up (or more often slobber all over your face UNTIL you wake up).

Having said all that and confirming that nothing and no-one is killing/murdering/massacring Agility, I am ALL for trying to optimise the sport and making adjustments that truly benefits Agility as a whole (as opposed to for one or two dogs, don't laugh by the way, here an entire jump height was added for TWO dogs).  So if you truly believe in your cause (being it an additional jump height or different qualification procedures), fight the good fight... if you have honest motivations and factual evidence (tons of it) to back you up.  Just accept the fact that life is life and it will never be perfect.

In 21 days exactly (3 short weeks), we are flying to Germany... in 28 days (4 short weeks exactly), we will be competing at the World Champs.  Nervous, excited, stressed... running around, visas, dog flights, making sure I HAVE everything.  Training on astroturf, training on AWC judge courses, conditioning dogs, trying to get fit myself... ladies and gents, this is REALLY happening!