Monday, February 7, 2011

Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher AKC Agility - February 2011

This last weekend we attended the Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher Club AKC agility trial. Only two weeks since the last, it felt like it had been forever. Guess that's the sign of an addict....

Our judges were two we hadn't run under before, Mark Upshaw and Laura A. English. The courses were awesome! Saturday's entry was completely full with 660 runs entered. We arrived around 6:45 am and started to unload. I'd purchased a new crate for Vegas and a cart to haul our stuff this week. The crate was overdue as her previous one had cracks through the tray and was rusted all over from her panic attacks and chewing the bars. Hopefully I can keep her more calm in this one and avoid the destruction. I had always wanted a crate dolly but wasn't willing to pay dog show prices for them. I saw an ad for something last week at Harbor Freight and figured, why not? With a couple of good bungee cords, the cart worked great and saved a lot of strain on my body. Turned out it was great timing as my low back was out Saturday as it was. There were quite a few moments where I wondered if I would be able to even run Vegas.

Before even getting started for the day I took the dogs to Nina's Photography portrait booth for some Valentine's Day shots. They unedited proofs can be viewed here, images 106-161.

So all set up and starting to get my bearings, I was in between the rings chatting with my friend Nancy, a MHDPC member and chief ring steward, and she commented on there being plenty of spots to work. I told her I was going to look at that and figure out where I could work. I told her I was only running two classes and she looked at my sticker and said I was running three. Thank goodness for Nancy; I had forgotten I entered Fast!

Unfortunately they had already walked the course. Fortunately there were still some maps left so I grabbed one and started to make a plan.
As with most things, plans are subject to change. I had taken Vegas to the warm-up jump and gotten her moving, warm, and ready. Then we had a bit to watch others run as Saturday was small to tall. Of course I got other ideas for how to run the course then.
So, in theory, the blue course was good. It would have given us more of a cushion on points and definitely provided better flow. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. I'm learning to trust my gut with what works best for Vegas. On Fast, I should almost always go with the send bonus first if I can. Vegas hits the course for the first time and is totally on fire. Since Fast is always run first in the day, it's a great energy burner and kick start to getting her going. I probably would have had a crazy dog on fire over the first two jumps giving us the momentum to get the send. Oh well, she obviously had fun.

Next up was Standard - albeit several hours later.
I'm never thrilled with starting with a tire. I've learned to work with our lack of a start line stay, but the tire makes working with it difficult as there's so much to go around when running with her. Interestingly enough, I was able to get a few feet with her. I walked the course both on the inside of the dog walk and on the outside.  For most handlers, being on the inside made sense although they were doing a front cross at the end of the dog walk for the #4 jump. However, in my case, I knew I could beat Vegas out of the tunnel. It doesn't really matter in the end. After all, I could beat her to the end of the dog walk, too. I decided to take the outside though and it worked well. Interestingly there was the same pinwheel twice in this course, the only difference starting with a different jump. The next part I had to really think about how to handle was the weave entrance. To make a front cross or not make a front cross? Off side handling or not? I opted for the front cross which gave her an extra yard or so heading into the weaves.

All was going well and we got to the table. At the end of the a-frame a lot of handlers were planning a front cross. I figured I could push and flip to the tunnel. That section was almost our downfall in this course as I almost pushed her off the jump and toward the wrong end of the tunnel. But, it all came together and we finished in 58.45. SCT was 70 seconds. Our placing was 17th out of 19 qualifying 24" dogs.

It wasn't until 4pm or so that we finally ran JWW, but it was another fun course.
On this course I was pretty clear what I wanted to do from the start. It made sense for me to set Vegas up good and far back from the first jump and for me to handle from the inside. I set her up fairly well inside so she could clearly see the #2 jump. That plan also set me up to handle the weaves on the correct side and not push her too far into the finish jump. She nailed her weaves like a champ and we moved on to 4 and 5. I used a rear cross at 6 and kept going. The next question was whether to front cross or rear cross at 11-12. I believe I had hoped to front cross but ended up with a rear into the 12-13 sequence. I had also hoped to get a rear cross in at 16 but ended up on the outside running all the way. Regardless, we pulled that one off, too! 38.05 with 43 SCT. This was our fourth QQ and a total of 15 MACH points for the day. Super proud of my girl and the MACH dream is starting to seem more like a reality. We're now 1/5 of the way to the required QQs and just under 1/7 of the way to the required MACH points. Go, Vegas, go!

Sunday I had a chance to peruse the pictures photographer Joe Camp took from Saturday. Here's what we got:
Check out the muscles in my ripped girl!
I posted this one to Facebook and everyone noticed how concentrated she is. There's a story to that. The 12" dog walk has not always been our friend. Even as is, she is always very deliberate in her footing. I would love to have more speed from her but not at the risk of injury. Early in her training she fell off the dog walk and wasn't able to get back up until after the winter break in our training. A year or so ago she fell twice more, the second  time I was able to catch her. No matter, I love the pictures. Joe does such a fantastic job.

We started earlier on Sunday (Perhaps because of Super Bowl?) and were also running tall to small. Standard was first again and JWW a bit later; they didn't offer Fast.
So I'll just start out by saying, Sunday was just a day not to be. But, we had fun and Vegas ran well. It was one of those days where I should have been at the handler trade-in tent and Vegas should have been exasperated with me. Fortunately she's awesome and the errors were minor enough that she probably hardly knew what happened. For instance, in an effort to avoid pushing her to the wrong end of the tunnel, I pulled her off jump #2. Oops! No matter, we kept on going. After all, why slow her momentum on something that was my fault and the Q was already gone. I am pleased to say she again nailed her weaves. Damn, that girl has made her full 12 weaves every single time in 2011. Amazing. At 9 I planned on rear crossing the teeter but never foresaw Vegas taking off over the #10 to the tire again. I guess it was a lot closer than it looks in the map. So now we have an F on our score sheet and a W. Glad we could keep the scribe busy. :-) The rest of our course we ran fine and she was smiling all the way. Our time was good so no complaints there.

It wasn't too long and we ran JWW.
I had worked the previous, open class with a very similar course. I saw handler after handler after handler attempt a front cross after #2 even with a lead out. It probably worked about 20% of the time. The rest of the time the handlers were way too late with their queue and forward motion (perhaps shooting for a scoop to #3???) and the dog took the #7 double behind them. Fortunately I know my girl and figured it wasn't worth trying the cross even though I could have been in position. After all, who wants to jump in front of a moving train? Jumping in front of a running Great Dane isn't much different! I worked her from the outside with the plan to rear cross at # 5. My plan was then to front cross after #6 but I ended up in a rear cross, I believe. Something fell apart in there and it's a bit of a blur now. I know no bars came down but I want to say I think I caused her to miss the #7 jump. Her weaves were fantastic again, complete with a front cross afterward. I remember pushing through the rest of the course with even more ambition just to make sure I worked it for all it was worth. She did really well; again, the issues were mine.

I had volunteered to work afterward and then we were loaded and out of there before 1pm. We stopped on the way home a few miles down the highway to grab some lunch and I also treated Vegas to one of her favorite post-trial things: vanilla ice cream. Boy does that girl know what's coming when we pull up there! She sure enjoyed her treat - and even shared a bit with Leo (mostly on his head). We came home and unloaded and then I decided to bathe Leo. The fairgrounds were not kind to him what with his coat being so long and it being rainy and muddy. That led to bathing Vegas, too, since she was due. Of course, what's a bath without a silly picture?

We now don't have any agility trials for about five weeks. I'm already going into withdrawals but I know we'll keep busy in the meantime and I'll have lots to blog about. Vegas gets to start her Intro to Odor (nosework) class Wednesday this week and she'll get to go to an all day herding clinic on February 19. Hopefully I'll have some pictures and fun stories to share.

1 comment:

  1. GO Vegas GO!!!! Huge congrats on your additional accomplishments. So very coo!

    And oh my goodness the Valentine's pictures are just way to cute! Love them!