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December 2011

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31st

I had a great day for year end. Cheryl and I went tracking! We were both out and laying tracks by 7 am. It was 55ish degrees with a morning fog so thick you couldn't see two car lengths. The air was just damp feeling. I laid a short track for Grace since she'd been feeling bad. Since that left part of her wooded field empty I laid Sparkle a short track cutting through some woods too. I discovered at the end of Grace's track that I'd somehow lost BOTH her and Sparkle's end gloves along the way. OOPS!!! I had an alternate end article with me though. Cheryl laid Xanadu a short track cutting through a wooded ditch and a short one leg for Lego to practice his starts.

I got back to the house with about an hour to spare before I needed to leave again to meet Cheryl to run our tracks. I laid Twinkle out a straight line with a right turn to the glove stuffed with leftover Quizno's prime rib. She took off from the start well. I am still not sure if she is tracking human scent or just sniffing along as she walks. She overshot the turn, but it was her first try at a turn. She did arc back towards the leg and found the glove. She still has no good indication skills as she is in it for the sniffing.

I loaded up Kayak (Cheryl hasn't met him yet), Lego, Xanadu and Sparkle and off we went to find our gloves. I got there just ahead of Cheryl so Kayak got his first tracking lesson. I put a treat under the start article to encourage him to sniff. He tried to scarf up the start article with the treat! LOL! He is lacking in refinement skills for sure. I think he's gonna be easy to teach to track, but only time will tell. He is very interested in hunting down his treats. Maybe so much so that he won't have the staying power for a track where there is no reward for 15 minutes. Hopefully he is learning and will learn to stretch out his tolerance for work. Cheryl drove up as I was putting away his stuff and got to love on him.

Xanadu was up first with a track around 3 hours old. Her first try at an aged track laid by someone other than me. She started well! Then she got lost checking out all the trash in the area, got back on eventually though. Then off checking out other scents. I had to help her at one turn as she got so far off she couldn't find it. Then she turned next to the ditch well and overshot her first try at a turn tracking into the woods. She did arc back and seem to indicate she thought that silly person had hiked off in the ditch. I gave a verbal encouragement and off through the ditch, across the water and up the other side she went. She went right over an article in the ditch without stopping. I struggled to wind through the thicker parts and she was trying to track on the other side in the field while I was stuck. I had to tell her to wait. She was good and waited until I got free of the woods and then she was good starting off again. She overshot the last turn, but fixed it herself! She did stop for the end article. I was very, very pleased at her efforts. Cheryl thought she did well too. We need to do some work on stopping at intermediate articles.

Now for Lego's start. Neither of us are holding out a lot of hope for a good start from him. This is the field he always struggles to start in when Cheryl lays him a track. He got to the flag and didn't stop for the article (odd for him, but not unacceptable). He angled off the flag and walked off with intent in a direction. OK, he walks with intent in any direction he wants off the flag on most occasions. I have been holding him back to a short lead while he searches for the track and only letting him go out on the line when he is right. I look over my shoulder at Cheryl as he keeps his direction and she nods 'yes'. He gets half way out his short leg and get distracted, but after investigating whatever, he is back on track and alerts to his glove. WOW! The best start I've seen him do in years.

We load up and drive to Sparkle and Grace's tracks. As soon as I got there I laid Bern a TD track in the field across from the girls' tracks. Sparkle does her track. (about 3.5 - 4 hours old) A little rough at the start, but not too bad. She makes the first turn well. She overshot her entrance to the woods (I have fussed in the past for her snooping woods). After some verbal OKs she traipsed into the woods and stays on my track through them. She walked right over an article without alerting (like Xan). I expected her to veer off and track animals. She struggled some finding the track when she got back into the field. After some struggle she was on the last leg and alerting to her glove.

Grace did well on her track. She needed a bit of encouragement to hike into the woods the first time. She found both the gloves I lost (they were together) and all her other articles. Then Bern did his 50 minute old track like a CHAMP! So can't wait to see him get his VCD!

Cheryl gave me a present for Christmas. I was awful this year and bought nothing for nobody. She also re-gifted and little indoor house to Sprigs. It was something she bought for Pete that he wasn't interested in. When I got it set up at home Sprigs wasn't interested either. BUT, Twinkle was!

30th

The holidays are a blur. Everyone has gone home now and I feel like I've been buzzing around for weeks. Kayak has had a little more reward zone training and today I started 'down'. I picked down to teach first as someone that met him in FL straight out of the handler's motorhome commented I'd have a hard time teaching 'that one' to lie down. Nothing like proving people wrong! A couple of sessions and he's catching on, but still taking a couple of seconds or more to down and still needs my treat hand on the ground. BUT once down he is holding it even when I stand straight up! HA HA! Take that you misinformed person. They also said he'd be de-barked soon. Well I have no intention of doing that either, although I still want to wring his scrawny little neck for that screeching noise! At least I only hear it at feeding time now.

I found the time and energy to take Sprigs and Sparkle out to my agility field this morning. The winter/spring time is when the agility shows are close enough the house that Sparkle runs a couple of times. I started with Sprigs. Mostly I wanted to work on her driving through a tunnel when I back cross it upon her entry. I found she didn't have that skill last time she was at class. I ran her over all the contacts, through the tire and weaves once. Then on to the tunnel, which I have finally lugged over to the field and put in the shed. I ended up putting a treat on the table (just out of the tunnel) and sending her through to the table to get it with no cross. Then I added in backcrossing the tunnel. She would sometimes go and sometimes not. More work is needed, but she did improve. Sparkle did everything once. She raced the teeter and banged it!! That's her nemesis obstacle. She was great on ALL of it. 3 minutes and out with steak treats. Still holding out hope for those last two NA legs this coming up year. Stinks that my home club has hired the ONE agility judge I WILL NOT show her under EVER again. So, I may have to travel with her once. BUMMER! 

26th

Sleep! I found sleep! Kayak finally started having normal stools yesterday, so last night he woke up once around 11 pm. Then at 4 am when he woke up and was tired of the crate and wanted out I told him that game was OVER! He went back to sleep (ok, he rested quietly at least) until I got up at around 6 am! He's even resting quietly in a crate in the living room for short periods of time assuming he's had good play time. This all bodes well for taking him to an agility show in Pensacola in a couple of weeks. Cheryl will be much happier with him as a travel buddy now than she would have this week I think. I haven't even begun to try having him anywhere inside when people are eating though. I haven't gotten much real training in. *SIGH* I haven't even logged into Twinkle and mine's online recallers course since before I left for Orlando. I am starting to see the benefit in printing out the instructions for each game and putting them in a notebook so I can get through them on whatever time I have.

24th - happy birthday Sprigs!

Sprigs turned ONE today! I sang Happy Birthday to her and gave her some cubed ham. Can't believe she's a year old already!

Mom and Dad and my brother arrived yesterday afternoon. We went and saw "We Bought a Zoo" this morning as a family. It was a really neat movie based on a true story. Very family friendly as well. (rated PG) 

Kayak spent the morning outside with Kamikaze in what we once dubbed 'retirement village'. We don't use it for the old dogs anymore since the ones that lived there are all gone but one. I think it will be renamed 'Siberian village'. He was much happier running with her over there than stuck in a kennel run. He is still getting up a least two, sometimes three times a night. OH sleep, precious sleep, where for art thou?

Most everyone has adjusted to Kayak's presence here. His favorite dog to annoy is Sprigs. Poor girl! He loves to pounce at her and grab at her and spin around to booty bump her. She snaps and snarls and dodges and tries to keep herself in an easy to defend position by backing up to something. He's not put a mark on her though and for all that snapping and snarling she does, she's one of the first ones to say 'hi' to him in the house. Granted in the house right now he is still on a leash attached to me. It's just too much to try to chase a puppy around with company here and a Christmas tree tempting him. My house doesn't lend itself well to gating off a puppy to a certain room. That's 'open floor plans' for you! Xanadu has made some interested pounces at him like she would play, but then he plays too rough and those darn puppy shark teeth offend her. Kayak's screeching is minimal now, but still unbelievably fierce at feeding time. At least now I've figured out to squirt his meds on the food instead of trying to squirt straight in his mouth. He's such a chow hound I don't think he cares what you slip in there for him to eat. Mom and I took him for a walk around the neighborhood before dinner today. He's really darn good on a leash! He has a healthy fear of cars too!

 

21st

Kayak has been in a kennel run while I was at the office yesterday and today. A couple of toys have been shredded, as expected. His best bud is Kamikaze! I've done a couple of 'reward zone' games and a 'gimme that collar game'. Still tired from show and he is still up at least once every night. Family is coming in Friday and leaving Tuesday. Puppy training is not likely to happen. Will be glad for the three day New Year weekend of relaxing and working with Kayak more. I've gotten some candid shots of him here at home.

Just for kicks I'll repost these pictures of Kazee when she first got here. Kayak and she look almost like twins but for the facial markings!
 
Now Kayak...
 

19th - Our first national event Adventure

DAYS 1 & 2

This is likely to be a long post. Sorry, but there was so much happening the last few days. Kamikaze and I took off Thursday late in the morning to make the 6 hour or so drive to Tallahassee, FL to spend the night. Karen, Nikita's breeder, was meeting up with us there. Don't think we could have planned our arrivals better! I got to the LQ there in time to feed Kazee and walk her and then Karen drove up. Considering we both had good half (plus) day drives to get there from different directions, that was way too close to perfect timing. 

We were up early, way earlier than my body wanted. Considering we had jumped time zones into Eastern time that 6 am start felt like 5 am. It's about 4 hours from where we stopped to the Convention Center in Orlando. I didn't need to be there until noon, but I didn't want to be late because of some interstate traffic problem. Plus I didn't know really where I was headed. We got to the hotel (next to the convention center) around 10 - 10:30. They even let us go ahead and check in. It was one of those fancy pants hotels that I'd never pay to stay in (or would even take dogs) under normal conditions. But, it was the host hotel and was next door to the event place and I didn't know how far I wanted to be away for cheaper money. Heck, first time at a national event, I went all in. AKC had gone all out at the hotel. The keys had the Eukanuba Invitational logo on them. There was a stage light on the ceiling that was casting a pink image of the logo on the lobby floor. We got a gift bag at check in that included a tarp to put under your crates, poop bags, and a special maid alert hanger that said "Dog in room, no maid service please" on one side and "Dog in crate, maid service please" on the other. We got checked in and piled our stuff on a rolling thingy and the bell hop took our pile of stuff up to the room. An interesting thought here... with the price I paid for the room I'd expect free WI-FI (NOT) and a simple breakfast (NOT) and I would not expect to pay to park my car in their lot (WRONG.. it was $8 a day per car to park at the hotel I was paying a good sum to be at). I think the La Quinta's are spoiling me! I can stay there for around $50 a night with dogs for no extra fee and there is almost always free internet and always at least free cereal/bagels in the morning and never a fee to park your car. 

At least I figured I was close enough to walk across the street with my dog and crate to the Convention Center and thus avoid their parking fees. I was, technically, and I did it every day about 5 times a day. The bad news is although I was right across the street from one end of the convention center the agility rings were at the OTHER end. It was a huge place and the walk had to be 3/4 of a mile or more from the car (at the back of the hotel parking) to the agility rings. Karen helped me carry stuff over Friday morning as we discovered just how long a hike it would be. Check started at noon. They had ONE table with maybe three people at it to check-in over 500 agility competitors. They didn't even split it into lines by last name or something. ACK! That was quite a line! It did go faster than I expected. The agility people got an wristband (picture the cheap ones at the fair to let you on the rides) that was supposed to let us in the crating areas. They said you had to have one to get to the crates in the information booklet, so I got Karen up there to get one. WELL, that was a big fat lie. We all had wristbands and they let us by the people taking tickets at the gate each morning, but they no more checked people mingling in the crating area than there is a man in the moon. SO, now the dilemma is we need that wristband thingy on every day for three solid days. If you know the kind I'm talking about you know they are not meant for long term wear. Mine was too tight to slide off my wrist, so I was doing interesting things in the shower every day trying to keep it alive. They did give agility people ONE set of tickets to get in (one each day). Since they kinda used the wristbands as passes I never used my tickets. Wish I'd have known since Karen thought she had to get tickets. She ended up not needing her set or my set because of the wristband. As a side note here, conformation invitees got TWO sets of tickets per dog invited. I was irritated at the inequality at first, but the wristband situation turned out much better for us. Everyone with a spouse/friend just got them a wristband. OK, so I'm checked in and set up at the agility area by one to do my walk through for FAST. I've been wearing my knee brace since I walked over from the hotel mostly because it was easier than trying to carry it. My run in FAST probably wasn't until around 5 pm. Kamikaze handled the surface fine, hit a hard weave entrance and then proceeded to bounce over the dogwalk contact. It was nice to have a practice run. Unfortunately my knee DID NOT like that surface. It hurt. For the first time in months it hurt. 

The Siberian people had a get together Friday night. It was average food and drinks with loud music. So, I got little time to get to know the other people there I didn't know.

I got my new Siberian puppy picked up from the handler who was holding him for my for the past couple of days about 1 pm or so Friday. New puppy is cute, much lighter red than I pictured in my head. He reminds me of Kamikaze at that age. Almost a blonde color. New puppy is named Rocyn's Shoot the Rapids, a.k.a Kayak. Kazee's first response was to ignore him completely! I got him crated at the agility rings and learned he SCREAMS BLOODY MURDER when you create him. This is gonna be a LONG weekend. By Friday night Kamikaze would let him close and not walk off.

DAY 3

Kayak was up every two hours with the squirts, and he hates the crate. I had to spend some time at night sleeping on the floor by the crate with the crate door open and my hand through his collar keeping him in it. I didn't want screaming to get him freedom (bad precedence) but I had to stop it or get kicked out of the hotel. Things at the show site actually started around 5:45 am. You could pick up your map then and there was an obsessive walkthrough open to everyone starting at 6am. Twenty inch dogs were first in so our actual walkthrough was 6:30 am. Nothing like extreme sleep deprivation and a half bum knee to kill any stress you might have felt at a national competition! I also decided to only put the brace on just before I ran and then take it off until the next run. That worked much better for me and my knee didn't hurt all day. I'm not sure I felt any unusual pressure when we stepped to the line for our Standard run Saturday morning. There were a couple of spots I was a bit concerned about. A straight jump towards the aframe out of a tunnel at the opening in which you pulled right to do the weaves instead of take the aframe (her favorite obstacle) and a turn off the Aframe pulling them away from a tunnel in the straight line path about half way through. Kamikaze navigated the course well, never looking at off courses. We started our national experience with a clean run!

She was a bit slower than normal, but then again I am a bit slower than normal and I was calling kinda hard at those spots. The Saturday afternoon jumpers course was, in a word, UGLY. A 180 with the first jump facing a tunnel followed by a threadle to the tunnel followed by a serpentine in a spot that looked like it would make a nicer pinwheel to a 180 wrap. And that was just the ending. I held it together well until the serpentine. I kept her off the tempting pinwheel jump, but forgot to pull her in for the second jump. I ran a straight line and so she did too, missing the middle jump of the serpentine. So, a bad handler mover costs us a clean run there. I felt more pressure on that run, but only because the course was not pretty. I tried to sneak Kayak in the back doors and keep him at the show after my first run. He promptly got kicked out. He started screaming as soon as I walked away to check the running order. He spent all day in the car in a crate with the windows down. That meant I spent all day walking that loooong walk back and forth to the car at the hotel every couple of hours to check on and walk him. I left water, a little in a hanging bucket which he promptly splashed out and played in every time I left. At least a wet dog with a breeze blowing is less likely to get too hot! By Saturday evening I was pooped!

We took a group shot of the Siberians outside the convention center.

Left to right: Kathy and Kai, Jan and GRRR, Michelle and Bristol, Me and Kamikaze, Barrie and Zini

DAYS 4 & 5

Kayak actually slept all night Saturday (ok, 7 hours) but I didn't. I woke up wondering why he wasn't waking up around 2am and then fought to go back to sleep. I slept through the alarm Sunday and Karen woke me up (just 15 minutes late). I got to the convention center just in time to join the last part of the open walk through for jumpers. I actually felt pretty good about the course. Two spots I worried would be an issue and slow us down: A 270 and a 180 wrap. Neither of these things does Kamikaze do with any drive. And there was a good crowd to wave at. We made it clean Sunday morning in Jumpers at least proving we are indeed well rounded since we had a clean run in Standard yesterday. Kamikaze did wave at the crowd in those two places as I expected slowing us down a good bit.

I actually liked the hybrid course Sunday afternoon. There were two spots I worried about. She had to weave off the teeter and that's not a strong point for us, but there was plenty of room. Then a hard turn off the Aframe instead of the jump ahead of her. There I also was concerned with the lack of space for me to step away from the Aframe to pull her. The broad jump was only two strides off the Aframe on that side. Well, the weave off the teeter got us. It was my fault. I tried to run the back side of the teeter and push her into the weaves. I even knew when I walked it that that would be a bad plan. She doesn't like to be forced into them and I invaded her space way too much. She wasn't even looking ahead for what was next, but at me for invading her space. She missed the entrance, twice. But after that she was screaming fast and clean. We did have that almost off course after the Aframe for a couple seconds wasted. I was proud of how we finished out that course.

Karen and I switched hotels for Sunday night. We didn't need to be back at the convention center, so I didn't want to pay that much just to sleep and get up to drive. There was a La Qunita about a mile up the road. OK, if I ever go to Invitationals there again I will be staying at this LQ! Half the other price, free parking, free WI-FI, lots of grass, (did I mention they hauled in patches of sod over parking areas for dogs to potty at the show site and hotel?) peaceful little road, best food we had all weekend at the restaurant across street too.

Kayak was up every three hours again. I even had my first real scare on my knee in one of his nightly outings. I thought I was down all the steps and reached down with my bad leg for the sidewalk. Apparently there was one more step and I caught it mid arch on the bad leg and stumbled good. The knee held, and caught me before I went headlong. Karen and I had free breakfast at the LQ around 6:30 got on the road. Kayak rides in the car great. He only complains if he has to potty. I called the vet and made an appointment to get him checked out at 4:30 pm. We've got to figure this diarrhea out! We stopped for an early lunch in Tallahassee before we split ways. Even with several puppy stops and a gas stop I pulled into the vet at 4:27 pm. Boy am I good. Turns out the boy has coccidia. At least there is a good and treatable reason! 

I did some fast introductions when I got home. Lego is less offended than I thought and Nikita actually likes him! Sparkle and Sprigs pretty much hate him. Everyone else says he can live here if he leaves them alone.

14th

Lego is not well, but on the mend. Rich got the cracked windshield replaced in the Expedition for my trip. (YEAH!) I am mostly packed up now too. Leaving 10 am tomorrow!

13th

Lego is still not well. I gave him some pain meds before bed thinking it may be a torqued back issue. I went to work still very worried. Left work early to take him back in to vet as his back is very painful. They gave loads of pain meds. Think he twisted it. I did get him to poop tonight, so hoping he's on the mend. All I need is to worry about him while I'm gone. The nice part about a well trained dog, I got to ice his back for him tonight.

12th

Twinkle and I are behind AGAIN in the course! And then I'm leaving for Orlando Thursday and won't be back until Monday night. How far behind is that? UGH! 

I did get some tracking in today. Twinkle did a short, straight line to a glove with 10 minutes of age with no treats on the track. She really impressed me. She followed the track with enthusiasm. So much that stopping for treats at the glove was not on her radar even though the treats were IN THE GLOVE. I had to pull her back twice to get her to eat the treats. She was still tracking! Sprigs had a 'z' track to a glove, 20 minutes of age with no treats along the way. She was a bit disappointing. She dutifully sniffed the start article, but when there was no start treat she seemed confused. She didn't start well. Stood with her nose in the air for quite a bit. She did eventually start tracking, but she was never confident. She stopped for her glove full of treats though.

Lego, Sparkle, Xanadu and Kamikaze all had short track of at least 3 hours age. Xan had two long legs. She started great! Worked her way down the first leg well. She sniffed an article, but didn't alert. Got a bit off at the turn since it was in back cover, but she knew which way to go. She went that way as she waved back and forth looking for the exact track. She was a bit off when she got to the glove, but she hopped on it. Sparkle had 3 turns. She wavered a bit at the start, but figured it out. She nailed turn one and two and stopped for an article. She wavered a bit at turn three since it was close to the woods. She much prefers wood sniffing to tracking. Some verbal correction for crittering got her back on track and she found her glove. Lego, well he was a giant disappointment. Still can't figure why sometimes he starts OK and others he just seems lost. This start was in short, short grass next to a fast food place. With a large ground indention just past his flag. He would never have started the right way without help! UGH! It was only a short straight line to a glove too. Kamikaze was a super dog. She started well off a 3 hour track. Nailed turn one, stopped on her article. Tried to pull me past turn two (I thought). I help ground hard, so she turned and spent the next leg trying to pull me back up to the track. BAD, BAD handler. She was really good the next two turns. It was a short track, less than TD length, but plenty of turns. She is so much more committed to this game now that she has matured a good bit. She may even have a TDX in her if I can track in the COLD weather. She'd give out in warm weather with all her fur.

After Physical Therapy today I got home to a hunched over lego. It seemed like it could be the beginnings of bloat, so I freaked and got him to my vet 15 minutes after closing, but they were still there. A couple of x-rays showed no swollen stomach. They gave him something to help the poop along though and sent us home. He's was not right though!

 

10th

Twinkle and I got in a couple of 'gimmie that collar' and another 'reward zone' session this week. Then Rich played 'restrained recalls' out back with me today. Twinkle is getting the idea that when I am ready to play there are good treats involved and she pays attention well, but the behaviors haven't bled over to everyday life yet.

Today Rich and I got the Christmas tree up and decorated as well as the stocking line hung.

I saw the PT Thursday and she was almost surprised by how much better I was since last week. I felt great too. Was biking and running (on the treadmill) with no obvious gimp. I think I'll be doing pretty good for Invitationals next week. Did I happen to mention that course map pick up each day is at 5:45 A.M. ?? ACK! I am walking courses by 6:30 A.M.

7th

Twinkle and I have been trying to keep up with Susan Garrett's Brillant Recall course. We are behind! I came home so sick from Memphis that we only got one 5 minute session in on Reward Zone so far this week. She doesn't get it. Her behavior to get the treats at this point is the back away and lay down. It's what I've been working on to keep her from not bugging us while we eat. I am hoping to play catch up on the games some this weekend. I am really interested in trying all this out on the new puppy I'll be picking up next week at Invitationals.

Kamikaze's special Invitational leash is here! FINALLY!

On Monday, I took a picture of the all the puppy's pre-bought outfits to send the breeder. She called to tell me he was sporting a new purple puppy collar. I about fell out. You'll see why!

I'd already picked purple for his color. He already owns all the essentials: agility martigale leash, walking leash, obedience slip collar, collar with name tag, and  tracking harness.

5th

Kamikaze, Josie, Sprigs and I spent the weekend at a USDAA agility show in Holly Sprigs, MS. This show is just south of Memphis, TN, so we get free room and board at Mom's house. I got to Memphis Friday night a few hours before my parents returned from a social trip to Kentucky. I set up my dogs at the house and went to meet Karen and Bill for steaks at a local restaurant. The one down side to staying in Memphis is the 5:30 a.m. alarm to get up and moving and make the show site by 7a.m.

The surface this year was not desirable. The chunks of dirt were not  broken up and it was tough to keep your footing on the hard knots of dirt. Not my pick for first full trial back running with the knee brace. Saturday started OK. Josie just was not running the jumpers course that was set, but that's OK. She then took a first place in Gamblers being the only mini dog to get the gamble. It was a custom made gamble for Josie. Jump, turn away from me to a tunnel, exit tunnel and come back to me over the #1 jump then wrap it and head back out to the final jump (not the Aframe sitting next to you on the line). Kamikaze's first venture out of the crate was for her Standard run. Seeing as that's all I needed to get her ADCH I was questioning my thought process on that one. She had a lovely, clean run that was just .26 second over time to miss our ADCH! Her next run was Pairs. She hit the double coming off the Aframe. She's not typically a bar knocker. I ignored it, but she couldn't. She really stressed for a few obstacles about it, causing another refusal at a jump. She went on Saturday to get 2nd place in Master Snooker, including an unneeded Super Q.

Sunday started with Gamblers. Kamikaze had a nice opening and I thought she was going to take the Aframe out of the under the Aframe tunnel, but she didn't. Josie had a nice opening and then proceeded to hack up her last cookie in the ring as the buzzer went off to start the Gamble. OOPS! Standard was next. I gave Kamikaze more space and she ran clean again, this time 5 seconds under time to get her ADCH TITLE!!! She's only the fifth Siberian to get an ADCH title in the history of USDAA. (one in 1999, one in 2004 and two by same handler in 2007) She is at this time the youngest one to do so!