Friday, December 31, 2010

baby steps...

I did two training sessions with Cheetah over the last two days. I continued to backchain her across the crossplank of the dogwalk. I put the table at the very beginning of the plank and had her load on from there. She started off a little rough at the beginning yesterday but she ended it well. Today, I repeated this set up and she started off really good, more confidence and some really good striding. Unfortunately, she had a high hit that I marked, and her next attempt to fix it was a big jump. Her next and last rep was better than the jump, but was about the same as the 8th rep. So all in all, we were about 7 out of 10.

I suppose I will stay here for a couple of more sessions, which I won't be able to do until I get back from the MADNESS trail this weekend. We shall see how she does on the contacts this weekend. She had two really good dogwalks in class on Wed. I was at least able to handle her like she really had a running dog walk.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Transistioning to the real Dog Walk....

Tuesday evening I took apart the picnic table ensemble and put together the whole DW. I was noticing (as did Rosanne) that she was basically bouncing the table because of it's shorter length. This is a concern since we know she is not going to have a 1 hit cross plank once it is a 12'. So I added some more motion to the table set up, in one session, which went pretty good. Then I set up the whole dog walk. It's set at about 28". I did one session that evening after the private lesson I gave to Julie and Splash. I didn't tape that session, but it was very odd.

I tried to run her over the whole thing, just to see where we were. She trotted down the down plank! ARRRGGH!!! I tried it one more time, and she actually started to stop for a 2o/2o.....WHAT?????? So, I just finished the session with several back chaining reps just to get her driving back to the target. I ended it there...sigh!

Yesterday we did two sessions, which we did tape. They went much better than the day before and the second session went much better than the first.

I took Cheetah to class tonight and we had a dogwalk in the the sequence. The course had a 270 from the left off of the dog walk. I handled it the first time as a push, which meant that I had to bust it up to the front of the DW to get the FC in so I could have her on my left to push over the jump. It was perfect! The next time I kept her on my right, but the time I saved by sending her I was able to get to the end and blind off of the DW. It was also pretty good. I may have collected her up a bit, but not too much.

Over all I am very pleased with our progression and will continue to backchain some more today, and tomorrow before we head off to MADNESS trial. The good thing about this trial, is that it is Team only, so even if she faults the DW, it will not be the end of the world. I purposely did NOT enter Friday's GP and Steeplechase classes so I would not be tempted to handle her contacts too much...THAT was hard for me not to do. I am such and addict! I will keep you posted!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

All I want for christmas is running contacts!

The snow melted off of the "Dogwalk" and we had two sessions. As I stated earlier, I fixed the 2" height difference and that really seemed to help her striding. I taped the second session ( almost to dark to tape) but she was a very good girl, and while one was a little high, she was 13 for 13. She had also hit all of them in the first session today...I swear!

This is first time I had tried using the clicker with this, I usually use it alot, but I didn't want her to think too much about what she was doing and found it was easier for me to just mark verbally. Now, I think I can add some precision to it with the clicker w/o causing too much thinking....I hope!

Here is the latest training session.

I added the up plank to the table set up from the end of the last post. I tried her on it one time that I didn't tape about a week ago. For the most part she did ok with this, she had a couple of really good hits. I think her striding was thrown off because she was trying to avoid hitting the spot where the 24" table met the 26" picnic table and that was probably close to were she would naturally put her first stride. Her solution was to take one short stride and then clear the picnic table and land on the down plank. I think she thought that was too hard, so she did manage to figure out a second place to stride on the picnic table.

After this session was over, I added some more foam pieces underneath of the carpeting on the 24" table, this now makes both of the tables even. I will tape another session of that set up as soon as the snow from this morning melts off of it a bit more.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Running contact Journal thus far...yeah I know I am way behind!

After USDAA Nationals, I talked to Rosanne DeMascio and we had a couple of lessons were we just tried to get Cheetah to run, it worked some, but I figured I should go back to the beginning and really try to do some of the Trkman foundation steps. Last February when I got the new rubberized DW, I started it, but I didn't have very much room in my basement to work on it and it didn't seem to be working very well. So as I am want to do, I ended up reverting back to a 2o/2o and trying to muddle through with the contacts. I really worked on her teeter and that is making good progress, but I don't think we will ever be completely done working on that.

Anyway, I first tried to use the electronic touch board that I have, and that proved to have limited success. As both Silvia Trkman and Rosanne pointed out, too much thinking on her part is not what we want.

So I played around with a couple of other things, and then I got out my teeter plank and propped it up on a cinder block and ( at first with the hit it board, then later sessions without it. I like the ones without it much better. The other thing that I think really made her think was the target out in front. She thought she was being proofed. So I spent a couple of sessions ( not taped ) where I introduced her to a frisbee upside down like a bowl with some kibble in it. ( She loves working for kibble - freak that she is!) then I held her collar and revved her up and said "ready - ready - get it! I did that for her dinner a couple of times and that seemed to get her out of the proofing mindset!

Then I ran her over the see saw plank on a cinder block a few sessions, always giving her at least one cookie already in the frisbee and throwing several more in if I liked the rep- if I didn't she got 1 cookie and I said "nice try - try again"

Then I put it on a 16" table with her running from a tunnel. I did that 2 different times, one at the love on a leash training building and the other at Hunter Mountain Farm where I teach a couple of days a week too. I liked that one of the boards had slats and the other one didn't, because I didn't want that to be a factor.

I have been putting foam ( the puzzle piece type flooring foam) underneath it to help stabilize it, since she is NOT going to run over a plank confidently if it is wobbly.

The next session I put the table up to 24" and tried the same set up, but her confidence went down since she smacked her leg trying to time the jump up with the next stride forward. so I didn't do too much with this set up.

I have decided that she needs more room to run at this height, so I placed my 24" table at home up against the picnic table, added some old carpet for traction and added a jump to send her to an viola! a working set up for this height. I am still putting the target out about 15-20' out and putting some kind of treat pre-loaded and then following up with more if I like the rep. I am not moving too much my self yet, mostly because I have to send her to the loop before I can put the treat down, then by that time she is on her way back and I don't want to be running towards her while she is running full speed down the plank.

My next step is adding the up plank to the picnic table set up and start to do a little bit of turning off of it. I don't want to go too quickly with that, I want the running full tilt to be pretty set before I start asking her to do any collection on it. I will also add a jump between the down plank and the frisbee, so she gets used to looking for obstacles after and not just the target.

I promise to keep you posted more frequently.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Our First USDAA Nationals

Whew...what a week it was! Team "GET TO THE POINT!" left for KY on Tuesday and we got to the site about 7:30-8:00. They were getting ready to close up but we got our space staked out - Thanks Tracy!! And off to go find the hotel. It was right next to the complex and was very easy to get in an out of in the mornings.

The Nationals was pretty cool, this was the first time I'd been to USDAA Nationals. We have gone to AKC nationals 4 times, but just could never take the time off to go all the way to AZ. Of course my being "Unencumbered by work" made things easier this year too.

Cheetah did pretty well over the course of the Nationals, she ended up 8th in Team Snooker out of about 130 26" dogs. We had bye's in to both steeple chase AND GP, so it was neat to be able to know that you would be in the semi's and not have to worry about the quarter finals. Cheetah missed her second aframe contact in Steeplechase so, no finals there and in GP, we were clean, because I micromanaged her contacts, and we ended up 25th out of 60 in that round, but they only took 16 to the finals. I did get a cool shirt!!

Our team didn't do too bad considering we had to claw our way up from the bottom!
After Team Gamblers, we were 191 out of 206 teams. Sheli and I both missed our multipliers. I missed it by .02 seconds ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! She had two significant bobbles of which either one would have easily made up for it! I lost about 33 points on that to end up with only 22:(

Sheli got 20 and JoEllen and Point got 30 - they were more conservative after seeing us crash and burn.

Cheetah decided that yellow was not doing it for her in team std. and missed all three. To be fair it was more than likely due to the fact that she had torn her carpal pad lure coursing the day before. Yes, Cheetah discovered lure coursing and LOST HER MIND!!! by the second run, she was bipedal waiting for her turn, foaming at the mouth, with a wide tongue and every molecule in her being was quivering! I had to drag her away from it and didn't even let her do a 3 run for fear she would kill her self. She was very clever about on thing though. When Point went, he got so excited that he ran through the lattice that was supposed to stop him. I tried to stop Cheetah from doing the same thing, but she figured out exactly how to get the "bunny", she jumped the fence to get out around me and then jumped back in on the other side of the lattice and grabbed the lure.

It wasn't until I took her up to get a drink that I realized that she was bleeding. I then noticed that it was from her carpal pad. I think that bugged her during the rest of the runs. I did get permission to have vet wrap on it during her runs to keep debris and to prevent further scrapping of the pad.

After Team Standard, we climbed to 126th place - WOOHOO! Then after Snooker, we got all the way up to 65th place. But alas, Team Jumpers bumped us back down to 85th. Cheetah went passed a jump, but I fixed it, JoEllen and Point had a refusal in the weaves, but fixed it, and Sheli and Deva ended up with an E because Sheli ended up running the last line differently than she walked it and was pointed toward the wrong jump and Deva took it. They only took 36 teams to the relay, so we didn't get to do that. But all in all, it was a good experience and the competition was great. We had teams from Japan, China, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada. The Japanese teams had some amazing dogs!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall update - sorry so long!

I am sorry it has been such a long time since I have updated the blog. We have gone to several trials and I will quickly give you the highlights.

TAG - We got the last GP leg we needed for Nationals. We also got another Steeplechase Q and also qualified in the second round. I think we won 17 bucks.

NE Regionals - We didn't get the DAM team Q we needed by 1.23 points (AAARRGGHH!!!) But I did get byes into the semifinals for both Grand Prix and Steeplechase at Nationals!! Woohoo! No money this time:(

Teamworks - Well we did manage to get the DAM team Q we needed. "Need that Q" got 1st place, but it was inspite of Cheetah's relay run. She E'd, we ran back to give the baton to Leigh and when she took off with Rapture, Cheetah decided SHE wasn't done yet - and decided to join them. (I'll get the video of that up soon!)

Rectortown - We had great contacts ( yeah!!) and got our 39th QQ. Hoping to get #40 at our trial (Weyers Cave)!

I will try to keep you posted more frequently in the promises though!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I got the crud!

Well I spent the weekend mostly in bed with the exception of of 2 private lessons on Sunday morning. I officially got the South African little kid crud! YUCK!!!!!

Cheetah, on the other hand, never missed a beat. I had a morning class to teach Wednesday after returning ( yes - I am crazy) I was going to let her sleep in...but as soon as I grabbed my training bag, she jumped up and was ready to go. She got to swim afterwards and even got a very personal encounter with a Great Blue Heron. I wish I had a camera for that one. It was hanging around the edge of the pond and then decided to fly over her head ( I thought she was going to get hit with those long legs as she swam back to shore!) Then it flew back on the shore about 10 min later and she stood there dumbfounded with the ball in her mouth, like - am I supposed to retrieve THAT? Then she pounced at it a couple of times ( literally, it was 20 feet from her) then it reluctantly flew away. It circled over head a few times, wishing we would go away no doubt!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tues – Flying out of Prague.

We got to the terminal in time and after some complications with them having Cheetah on the plane, things went smoothly. The 5 hour lay over in Amsterdam gave me plenty of time to potty Cheetah and get us back on track. The long leg home was pretty smooth except that We were next to a family with two small kids ( 1 or 2 and 2 or 3). I am not a big fan of small sticky kids, but they were ok I suppose because they didn’t scream the whole time, and the youngest (a boy) slept for the first 4 hours of the flight. They did sneeze and cough some, so I hope they weren’t too contagious!

Landed in Dulles about 4:30 and went through customs with out any problems. Cheetah saw an intact male Lab working in customs and he almost got distracted from his job. We got home about 8:30pm. All in all, I would say that the trip home was better than some other people reported, we were only delayed about 20 min leaving Prague and had plenty of time to make it up before we left for home. It was a cool experience and I would definitely do it again – I would prefer it without the puking and the mud though…if at all possible.

I have lots of things to train and courses to practice. That which does not kill us, makes us better handlers right? Hope you enjoyed my take on this adventure. Watch the videos – they will give you a good since of the challenging courses we had.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Monday - Leaving Liberec…back to Prague!

Cheetah helping me finish my coffee...pre scolding.

We checked out of the hotel and went to breakfast. I had Cheetah with me and she wanted my coffee cup when I was finished as she always does. I let her lick it and the same waitress that ignored us the entire morning obviously caught my infraction from inside the restaurant because she comes out looks at the cup and points at it and then Cheetah –then says “No” and shakes her head. I think I was just scolded in Czech!

We head back to Prague with really knowing if we know how to get back but we figured there should be more signs to then Liberec. We get on the right track after a little detour, then things go well. We are trying to decide whether or not to stay at the hotel we have booked ( back in middle of Prague) or if we should get a room at the airport and turn our car in a day earlier. We find the signs to the airport to be pretty clear – we like pictures!! So we head into the airport, test drive the rental car turn in spot then go to the Marriot across from the terminal and loiter while we figure out what to do next. We called the people and they call the other hotel (Desnia) which of course says that they will not refund our money. It is $59, our car was $42/day so saving that almost paid for it. The Marriot quoted 174, that wasn’t going to happen, but the Holiday Inn down the road ( still within the airport) was only $109/night so we decided to do that and take the bus into Prague to finish our sight seeing. We left Cheetah in the room to rest since she was quite unimpressed with public transportation system the first time.

This is where we ate lunch before going to the Castle

In Prague, we ate lunch at this little outdoor place then got to see Prague Castle, after climbing many, many steps. We saw this really cool Cathedral and a tranquil garden. We then headed toward the Sqaure to get a horse carriage tour of the city. I was very neat and took us to the part of town that we had not even begun to explore. It did show us the closest way to get back to the metro station to get home after we picked up a couple of souvenirs. We made back to the hotel with out a problem and went to bed so we could get up at 4:00am.

here is the driver of the carriage ride - using her cell phone!

Toni on the steps on the way up to Prague Castle...this is just part of them!

A view from the top of the over look of Prague Castle.

This is a little street we went down on the way to the Castle

Sun - Feeling better now

Feeling much better now – it is amazing the difference a day makes. The sun is even coming out. But now it is like 20 degrees cooler than when we got here. I had on 4 layers on top most of the day.

The first run was at 7:45 – why couldn’t we have had a later start?? Some people didn’t need to walk their first course until 11:30. Pre coffee, I managed to remember the course and we had a great run – except for the DW contact ( but we still got a score) She wanted to go to the tunnel ahead ( I know what we will be working!!) I had planned a couple of fronts after the teeter, but I was afraid to get to far ahead, so I didn’t and had to handle from the rear with directionals. Luckily it worked really nicely.

Nice jumpers round until the push… if I could have gotten 1 more stride ahead then I could have changed her mind about it being the front of the jump – silly girl, we are in Europe – it’s the backside of the jump. Then we got a little out of sink and she took the far end of the tunnel – that was weird, but I think it was because I rushed the rear cross that I should have gotten a front in for.
The final round for large dogs was the hardest course I think I’d ever seen – It had some of the weirdest combinations of obstacles – you will just have to look at the course map. Very few people got around it clean. I can’t wait to set it up and try it out for myself.

We then ran around and tried to trade our shirts, jackets with other countries. I ended up with a Great Britain shirt, a Swiss shirt and a Italian Jacket. We had a closing ceremony similar to the opening, were we finished our shirt trading and attempted to listen to the announcements of the winners.

Channon Fosty and Icon got a 1st in jumpers
I know that our 4 large dog teams were 14th, 15th ,42nd and 67th out of 86 teams.
Our small/med teams were 53rd, 59th 69th and 79th out of 88 teams
USA had 7 dogs in the finals
4 large and 1 small & 2medium
Wings -17th out of 74
Icon- 25th out of 74
Blink , Skylar, Miley, Jimmy Dean, Reebok were also made it to the finals, but NQ’d.

Sat - A tale of two seasons… It was the worst of times,….yeah… that’s all I got!

Pictures of the stadium taken from our room - we were very close to the rings.

Several things prompted me to make this title …rain – mud – and puking oh my…oh wait lets not forget NQing! There…that should cover it!

I woke up not feeling particularly well, nothing major, just a little queasy. I thought I would feel better after I got up and moving around.

Additionally, overnight it rained and rained and rained. The wind was blowing like crazy and we went from shorts to wishing we had several more layers to add. It reminded me of oh say the Lebanon, PA spring trial, or an outdoor Berryville trail with the mud or of the famous shoe sucking Rectortown mudfest. The once pristine green grass of the competition field would soon be turned into a swamp of 6 in deep black goop, at least on the large dog courses.

The night before we had a meeting to explain all of the little ins and outs of the regulations and that they were only going to be allowing the next 5 dogs on the field for each ring. That would be a total of 24 dogs out there at any one time…that didn’t really last very long.

We don’t get course maps so you have to walk around the ring trying to figure out where the course goes. There was this really wicked weavepole entry that was only a couple of feet from a jump that they don’t take. I didn’t feel very well to begin with, and that wasn’t helping. Elicia said not to worry, we were all in the same boat. I appreciated her attempt to make me feel better, but I wasn’t convinced.
When I went out for my turn, I was a little rushed because I had to potty her and get us down the stadium field through the one gate. I got there in time, but I thought I would hear a whistle to go in, but this judge only did this Vana White impression, causing me to ask him go now? Ok to go now?? Which made Cheetah do guess what …..go NOW! I was not in position, I had not lead out, and SHIT she was going NOW!! So I spend the entire run contemplating whether I should have stopped her, not let her run…would this now become a habit?? Crap this course is hard, I should get my head together.

this is Cheetah leaving with out me...I am supposed to be infront of that jump BEFORE she started!

I managed to handle her sort of (not very smoothly to say the least) from the rear until the weave entry. I did not get ahead enough ever to cue the collection need by decelerating, I was still running! So she took the off course jump, then made a beautiful entry. She did well on the tunnel discrimination which was very similar to the one missed at tryouts, so I was pleased with that.

Here she is nicely reading the rear cross - a place I spent the whole run.

Between my runs, I decided that maybe if I ate breakfast and had some real coffee, that would make me feel better. It didn’t. I went back to the room and rested a bit. I even took a Pepto-Bismol, but that only proceeded to make me puke within 10 min of taking it, which was about 20 min before my second run.

The second run was set in a swampland by the time we got to it at 11:30. There was a horrific weave pole entry that was at a 45 degree angle out from a straight tunnel with an a-frame about 2 feet (maybe) from the weave entry but the a-frame is a dead on approach. They loved straight tunnels at this EO! She missed the weave entry which I forgot to mention was in 6 inches of mud because so many dogs had slid out trying to stop themselves from slamming into the a-frame. Cheetah missed the weave entry, I thought that standing in the middle of the exit of the tunnel, she would have to collect…wouldn’t she? Apparently not! After the Dogwalk, she took the off course jump and then I missed a 270 and went from the tunnel to the teeter…did I mention that I had just thrown up about 30 minutes ago? Oh well two runs, two E’s – tomorrows another day! I went back to the room to lie down.

Look at the mud on her feet going over the viaduct!

It's a good thing she loves to weave! What you cant' see is how close the Aframe is to the beginning of the weaves.

Toni wanted to know if there was anything she could bring me and suggested a coke. I don’t normally like coke, but it has helped me in the past with an upset stomach. That was the wrong move – as soon as I drank it, within 10 seconds, I needed to get rid of it. So I continued to lay in bed and miss the rest of the regular rounds. Toni came back and told me that they had closed the standard ring for “obvious reasons” to add sand to it. That took about 2 hours for them to fix it enough to finish running the large dogs on it.

I was feeling well enough by the end of the day to sit in a chair and look out of the window and watch the end of the small finals and the medium finals. They postponed the large individual finals until tomorrow.

Friday – Practice and Check - in

Cheetah and I in front of the sign at the arena

Our practice time was around 12:30, so we could sleep in a bit and go to breakfast, for some more local fair. Toni and I then went up to the practice field to scope out what the set up was and to figure out what particular things Cheetah and I needed practice on. Katie suggested that we not worry too much about tricky handling maneuvers, because if they didn’t go well in practice you would go into the competition on a bad note. Basically, get them exposed to the different types of equipment they have and keep it simple.

We met for our practice time and ended up having a pretty good practice. The teeter was very strange and I wanted to make sure that she did not have a bad experience on it. When I got to the teeter, I had her wait then went to the end of the teeter and called her up – holding it in place and lowering it. It was kind of a slippery rubber matting and lots of dogs were flying off of it. She did good. I sent her around another loop and let her do it on her own; she did good. I did it once more with no problems then I went on to the a-frame. She didn’t stop, and repeated it, again with out a stop. I should have marked it better, but we only had 45 seconds out there so by the time you repeat a few things, you are finished.

Next we went to the jumpers side again for a 45 seconds session while the little dogs went to the contact side. She did fine, except she missed her weave entry, which I made a little bit hard on purpose. The weaves are really odd and fat, made of metal and all a solid color (yellow). The bottom of the contacts are red not yellow and they are also rubberized. The jump bars looked like branches with the twigs cut off and painted. I don’t have a bar knocking problem, but I would think if you did you dog would soon change it ‘s mind. All and all it was a pretty successful practice.

Later we went to go check in with the vet and make sure our paperwork was in order. During that time, Cheetah met two new boyfriends...Tracy Golden's Blink and Bam. She flirted with them and they were more than happy to flirt back. She has a real thing for male BC's

We also took a group photo!

On a very sad note, one of the USA team members Stacy came with her Schnauzer Crusher and when she got to the vet check, they stated that he couldn't compete b/c he had his ears cropped. No where in any thing they had read mentioned this, but they simply refused to listen to reason. It was a very sad moment for us, and I can't even imagine how it would feel to go all the way over there and be told you can't play and not even be reimbursed for anything.

Thursday -meeting the team and the Team dinner

Each morning we got a ticket to go down to the little restaurant across the street to have breakfast. They had really strong coffee and an odd assortment of food items.
• Tomatoes
• Rolls/baguettes
• Ham slices
• Pepperoni
• Fruit
• Sliced cheese

The waitresses didn’t speak a lot of English, but enough to get by. The same crew was there for breakfast and dinner. This morning was really nice, so we sat outside with the dogs, but later when it was rainy, we were allowed to bring them inside…pretty cool!

After breakfast, we went out to the mall to get a fan. The mall WAS air-conditioned BTW! Toni and I thought we might just move into the furniture store for the rest of the week. We found a fan and then went grocery shopping. You have to pay to get a shopping cart. We got some flavored carbonated waters (This country is obsessed with bubbles!! )

We drove around a little bit looking at some of the countryside, albeit not entirely by choice. They are also obsessed with round-a-bouts and it is easy to get off on the wrong part. After we got back and assembled the fan, it was time to get ready for the team dinner.

here is the buffet

Me waiting to the chance to go to the buffet

It was at another restaurant at another nearby hotel that was doing its best to be Las Vegas. We got a ride over with Lisa Bowers and her husband David, whom I had met at breakfast that morning. It was nice to see everyone on the team, some I knew, and others I didn’t. Unfortunately, Janneke and Elicia were still trying to find their way out of Prague and did not get to the dinner. We got some instructions about when the practice was on Friday and what to be ready for.

Liberec??? where the hell is it??

Apparently, no one in Prague ever goes to Liberec, because we asked several people and got interesting advice like:
• A Cop that said – go back (pointing behind us then, when the light changed – GO GO!)
• Several people that couldn’t tell us any thing
• The Taxi driver who said after some contemplating - meaning he didn’t really know where it was either –
o Go around the circle and look at the signs and see if you see anything that helps!
o Your fist time in Prague?? Driving?? There is much construction! (along with a face that said “ YOU ARE SO SCREWED!”) and finally -
o You could follow my colleague out of the city for 700 kc ( about $35)

Toni and I decided to be stubborn and set out on our own armed with sketchy google map directions and a quickly setting Sun. I knew we had to go north out of town, but there didn’t seem to be a way to do that! So we circumnavigated the city of Prague and eventually ended up on the correct road. It was I believe the first time Toni or I were ever happy to see numbers!!! We can read them! Then eventually we saw a sign for Liberec! WOOHOO!

Along the way I noticed something interesting… There is a lot of open farmland out side of Prague, but the parking situation is horrible. Why don’t they spread out a little bit??

At about 11:00 we arrived at an exit to Liberec, but we still don’t know where the hotel is, so we stop at a grocery store that is closed and empty except for this very nice couple that speaks very little English. I show them my directions that I printed out hoping some of the odd words mean something to them (because they sure don’t to me) The wife goes to try to find someone else that is in the store area that speaks better English. They were a very nice couple and tried hard to help us out. I have never been on the minority end of a language barrier before, and while I have never been rude to anyone that didn’t speak English at home, I vowed then to for evermore be more patient and helpful to non native speakers from now on. The other person came and was pretty helpful, although we still managed to miss the turn we needed to take. We turned around and got back on track, found the sports arena, then tried to find the hotel. Toni said in a sarcastic tone – “Why are you going this way – turn around do you really think you can just drive around and find the hotel like before?” and just at that time, I come to an intersection - and their it is! The Hotel Arena! YEAH – We are here!!!

We check in and go upstairs to discover that this hotel doesn’t have a/c either! What is with these people??? The room is nice, and it has really big windows that open to almost the size of doors, but there really wasn’t a cross breeze, so the room was stuffy. Toni is way more hot natured than me, and she was not very happy about the prospect of going the next few days with out a/c. They only have one fan and someone took it already (this was a rare heat wave according to the front desk). We decided to go out tomorrow and get a fan. So we went to bed about midnight with a warm room and little air flow.

Our Day in Prague

The next morning we checked out of the hotel, and headed off to do some looking around Prague. Since we had to bring Cheetah with us – it made for an interesting day. Many places in Prague allow dogs to go in to them, and around the streets most of the dogs were loose – just following along with there owners and intact. I have never seen so many pairs of testicles in all of my life!

breakfast outside our hotel

Here is the metro in Prague

In order to go into Prague, we had to get on the metro again, and we had to buy a ticket for Cheetah to ride. The biggest problem was that in several of the stops, the only way to get from one level to the other was to go via escalator, so I had to carry her up and down them. She didn’t really like that too much, but she was a trooper and tolerated the process.

Here is a view of the escalator that we took later to show you the steepness of them. Imagine I have Cheetah in my arms.

Once we got to the stop we wanted, we started looking in the little shops and things and found some cute jackets with PRAHAH and CZECH written on them. He sales guy was so nice and completely fascinated with Cheetah. I don’t know why, because there were tons of dogs in Prague. He gave us a discount on our shirts and told us how to say thank you in Czech. I am not sure how you spell it but it sounds a lot like “dickweed!” Well, that’s one way to remember it!

view along the streets of Prague

Cheetah and I on the front steps of the museum

A view of the city from the museum

Here are signs from McDonalds and KFC - Except their menus are a little different!

We tried to go into this museum, but no dogs were allowed, so we went to go find a place to buy a Gelato instead. I got a berry one and it was really good. We apparently arrived during some kind of rare heat wave, because while we were in the square a water truck came around and sprayed anyone who wanted to get wet. Cheetah and I took advantage of it and the kids chased after it.

Here we are in the Square

After we cooled off we walked around and made our way into this cathedral, but nothing was allowed in it. No dogs, No touching, No pictures – we took a picture of the sign to prove just how crazy the sign was! The pigeons were everywhere and were driving Cheetah crazy because they would not fly away until the last minute.

This is the astronomical clock in the square

We headed back to the hotel to pick up our car and then go find this park that I had seen online that was supposed to be close by. Of course we had to take the metro back, so that meant more escalators and an elevator. Cheetah doesn’t really like elevators or should I say “lifts” anyway, but the ones in CZ are REALLY- REALLY small, so by this time Cheetah is thoroughly and completely over it. She through a doggie tantrum (meaning that she just sprawled out on the floor and became a mule). I had to push her into the last elevator, but I think for the long day she had of sightseeing and weird happenings, she did really well to just fight it the one time (I can’t imagine if she were a kid).

Off to go find the park we go - maybe??? Asking for directions in this town is very tricky. Some people know some English and others don’t. Czech is a very difficult language to understand. Some other languages you can at least guess what the words might mean in English….but not Czech! So I was really happy when we found someone that could understand us. But we couldn’t figure out how to get to the park because the words one the google maps I printed and the names of the streets in real life were totally different! We stopped at this little Italian place on the outskirts of Prague to get a pizza so we could eat it while Cheetah got to play a little ball. At home, if you see a refrigerator with drinks in it, then you are supposed to take one out and take it up to the counter to pay for it. Well that is apparently NOT the case here. We made a taboo move of self serving our bottled drinks and I thought they were going to have a heart-attack! At first I thought they were just strange, but later noticed similar control freak like soda guarding at other restaurants. At least they were able to point us in the right direction to the park. Again more testicles on free ranging dogs than you can shake a stick at! Surprisingly, there was no reactivity, and pretty decent recalls. I am also convinced that the Czech have a genetically advanced whistling gene that I am jealous of! After a romp in the park and a mediocre pizza, it’s off to find Liberec!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finally found Wi Fi!!!

We are finally at a site were we have wi-fi access! So I can now give you the nitty gritty on our travels to this point!!!

Monday/Tuesday -
We had a fairly uneventful flight with the exception of a little bit of turbulence as we traveled up the east coast on our way towards Amsterdam. Once we landed in Amsterdam we had do find Cheetah a place to potty and because of that we had to go back through security afterwards. We also noticed some really cool airplane logos over here much prettier than what we usually see in the states.

Afterwards, we tried to take a nap in these really cool chase lounge chairs, but Toni is not a very good napper!

Once we got to Prague, we tried to find the rental car place, and we went through customs, but Toni said that it was too easy, so we were probably going to get a complete orifice check when we tried to return.

I also got my first patdown...I feel like a real traveler now! We finally located the building that the rental cars were in and tried using my debit card to the account that I had saved up money for this trip in. Luckily, I also brought a credit card becuase even though I told them that I would be out of the country, they didn't seem tell the rest of the bank about it. The lady was not impressed with our questions and my wanting to know how to get to to Prague and if our car was going to really be big enough. She looked like "I will break you" from a Rocky movie. We then tried to follow her directions and we go the hotel. WE GOT SO LOST! I don't know how we ever found the hotel, but luckily I had google mapped it and looked at some of the pictures of the intersections and then I recognized this triangle and knew exactly were we were. Finding out where we could park was an adventure in itself. We had to take a shower to turn back into humans again then we had a really nice dinner and went to bed - without A/C!!!

here is a picture we had someone take of us at dinner - I think he had been drinking a little too much ????

Here is a picture of me going to dinner - the arrow is pointing to our hotel - that little tiny ally way is where we were supposed to park. I ended up parking on the street around the corner b/c I couldn't get in a spot there!

I forgot about after dinner... We picked up Cheetah from the room and got on the metro ( which was free by the time we got there) to go down to the Charles Bridge. Cheetah didn't really mind the metro tram so much but the stop we got out on only had an escalator - and she did NOT want any part of that, so I had to hold her up the escalator. One of them was a really long set and I am glad that she is only 45 pounds!

Then we walked to the bridge. Here are some pictures of that at night. At one point we looked over the edge and saw some seagulls. I made the mistake of looking interested in it and I thought Cheetah was going to jump off of the bridge and into the water - it is a long way down.