Friday, April 1, 2011

CRAC AKC Trial Friday Report

I feel like I say this often but I guess that's because I do and I can't seem to help it since I'm not a morning person. Today started way too early! Earlier than usual, in fact, because the trial location we were headed to is tight on crating space and when you have a giant dog, you need space. The alarm went off at 4:30 - yes, that's am - and I got up a few minutes of 5. Fed the dogs, showered, finished packing a few things up, and we were on the road at 5:41. I decided to forgo coffee knowing they'd had good coffee at the fairgrounds previously. Big. Mistake. Let's just say I didn't end up with coffee today and I'm not making that mistake twice in a row. Cest la vie; I survived. We arrived and the gates were not unlocked yet. There were about four of us with large dogs with the same idea. Fortunately we didn't have to wait but 10 minutes or so and we were in. Rachel and I were lucky and got one of the last spaces large enough to accommodate two Boxer-sized crates, a Great Dane crate, and a Pomeranian crate. Whew!

This trial was hosted by the Columbia River Agility Club and can I just say that I love them? More on that later, but I do love them for a variety of reasons. They just put on great trials. They have great raffles and they have nice people running the show. Plus I like the venue, despite the crating issues, since it's an hour or so from my house and a straight shot down the freeway. The location is great for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is there's a large park, pond, and open spaces just across the street to take the dogs to romp and burn off some energy.

We got all set up and then the waiting game was on. Neither of us were entered in Fast today so we did take advantage of both the park and the dry weather. Vegas was raring to go as was Leo. She'd needed the rest this week but definitely felt she had recovered sufficiently enough to get out and play. Plus, she just loves open spaces, exploring, sniffing, and nature. Fun was had by all and Leo even chased a duck! It was really cute, actually, and ended when Harry Potter might have mistaken Leo for a "lure." Fortunately HP realized it was his friend Leo when he got close and no harm was done to the Pomeranian. Here are a few pictures of the crazies.

Beautiful foot bridge and pond in the early morning dew
We weren't out for too long but you can see how enjoyable the time was for my smiling pups. It was just what Vegas needed. I worked with her on her crate quite a bit today. She's making progress and having her on the Shen Calmer really helps. I didn't work at all today and haven't decided if I will the next two days. She needs a lot of work and help on getting over her severe crate anxiety. While we have a long way to go and a lot of consistent work on it forever, I was excited to see her lay like this in her crate comfortably.

Our first run was Standard and came around noon or so today. Here is the course, judged by Jack Cadalso, a judge we had never run under before.
What a fun course! Everything had flow. There was nothing treacherous. The weave entry was nice. I can't say enough good things about this course! The only real concern I had at all is that Vegas would take the tunnel instead of the dog walk. Yes, I try to protect her from tunnels but she can still fall prey to the tunnel suck. It happens to the best of em'! After the dog walk, the speed with which Vegas propelled herself and took the double, I wondered briefly if I was in trouble. I have not seen that kind of speed from her often but was it a wow moment! I felt like I was a bit disjointed, hardly flowing as I am usually able to handle. My mind was just comprehending the speed she was offering and, fortunately, it caught up when I sent her into the second tunnel. Walking the course I knew that tunnel was long. But wow, was it long! I am starting to hear things when I'm on the course with my girl. I guess it's finally trusting each other and just working the course the best way we know how and not over-stressing until I'm a bundle of nerves all the time all the way through. I heard her footfalls as she crawled through that long length of tunnel. Wow - what a sound! From there we took the a-frame and I was really careful to target her "touch" to make sure we didn't blow our contact. She's been great but I'll not relax on that one. It's just too easy with the a-frame to leap beyond. From there things were pretty smooth. I kept my eye on her through the couple of jumps following the chute in case her eye strayed, but it didn't. I ended up with a quick front cross after the teeter and everything was smooth as silk from there on out. The SCT was 68 seconds. Our time was a smoking 54.25! MX leg #8 in the bag plus 13 MACH points! I was so proud of my girl - still am. She ran like a dream and was just so darn happy. This sweet woman came up to me later today and told us she was just clapping and clapping for her. She'd been ring crew during our run and just thought it was so wonderful to see Vegas run. What a compliment!

Things were moving along fairly well in the other ring at this point but we did go outside and wander a bit plus ventured into the conformation building to see what was going on. Not a whole lot, it turned out, so we went back to our crate and worked a lot more on being comfortable in it. Vegas did great!

I'd reviewed our JWW course a little while before. I wasn't worried about it being too difficult other than the tightness of the jumps in the front/center section. It left little room for error with such a giant dog so of course I knew my handling would be crucial. The judge was someone else we'd never run under before and, interestingly enough, will be our judge at the CPE trial we run in in two weeks. Very cool! The guy was fun and had a lot of energy out there.
My goal was to attempt to get a lead out on this course. I decided I would try putting Vegas in a sit, step in front of her, remove her slip lead, then give her a firm stay, and make my move. It worked pretty well! I just need to remember to take the lead I can and not give the release command just so she doesn't release herself. All in due time.... :)

From there I decided to handle on the inside through #5. It was just easier for me. Without a strong leadout, front crossing between 2 and 3 didn't seem practical. Since Vegas has such a reliable "flip," that was my plan from 5 to 6. I then planned on backing off as I led her to #7 and then front crossing to pull her to 8 and 9. It worked out beautifully, completely in sync. From there we moved to the weaves and Vegas nailed em'! Another flip at the end of the weaves to make the right turn to the jump and I ran full out with her doing the same to keep pace. I'm so glad she's smart enough to take the jumps, too, while she's at it! Everything went fine until we were in the last handful of jumps. I almost, almost pulled her off #18 and blew our run. I don't know what I was thinking other than perhaps not thinking. Luckily I realized my error in just enough time and Vegas responded instantly, taking the #18 jump with a hairs-width of room before crossing the plane. She'd been on the inside as I pushed her and when I called, she veered at the last second, taking the jump at a near diagonal going toward the back of the course. She's so awesome though as she managed to do it without knocking a bar plus, we still made time! 37 seconds and change on a 41 second course. Yahoo, Vegas! 3 more MACH points and our 18th MXJ leg.

I mentioned earlier I really like the club that hosted this trial. I mentioned the good reasons earlier, but here is a great reason! :) They are the only club in the area that offers Q pins and QQ pins. I wanted a QQ pin. And guess what?! We got one!
We stuck around a little bit longer to get our scores, get our ribbons, and to go watch a smidgen of the Tibetan Mastiff National going on in the conformation building. After saying hello to our friends, Shana and Wally. we headed home. Vegas, of course, wanted dinner right away. Then she was happy to snuggle in for the night on the couch. And tomorrow is another day!

Hope everyone's weekend is wonderful! Happy April 1!

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