Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 3 - CRAC Agility (The End of AKC's 2011 Invitational Year)

Today we got to arrive a bit later. I'm still not used to actually showing up later in the morning on small to tall days when we're already set up and it still makes me nervous. Nonetheless, we arrived around 9:15 am when things were in full swing. They were just getting started on Excellent Standard small dogs when I took a few minutes to video for a friend's run before finishing unloading our stuff and setting up our shades.

Then we had time to kill. So we hung out, watched some runs, meandered a bit, and hung out some more. Courses were fabulous again. Hope the Pac NW will keep hiring Lavonda Herring often; her courses are great. Plus, yesterday and today we only had one tunnel per course. Perfect for the giant dog.... Again we ran standard first and JWW last. The big dogs in Excellent shut the place down! this afternoon, wrapping up about 4 pm. Whew! What a long weekend. Before I go into today's results, I need to go into true confessions, a cleansing of the soul, if you will.

I'm very, very competitive. I've set goals and I am driven to achieve them. It's not a new thing at all although it's a first time involving dogs (or anyone aside from myself). That said, nobody is harder on me than myself. For instance, three weekends ago in Canby at the outdoor trial, Saturday we ran and Qd in a very tough JWW course. Everyone complimented us on it and all I could think was, "Thanks, but wow was it ugly!" And the important thing to note is, the ugliness was not Vegas at all. She was a rock solid superstar. The ugliness was my handling. I was out of practice and fumbled a lot. So it was an accomplishment for sure to Q, but it was due in no small part to my Vegas. She did all the work and just happened to work with my ineptitude. The problem I've had lately was 50/50. Half the time I recognize when I did something wrong that caused us to go wrong (or not) and half the time I don't. It's the half of the time I don't and my competitiveness (along with a short temper) get in the way. I get cranky immediately and I lack a lot of grace under pressure. On the one hand, I hate it. On the other hand, I can't seem to fix it in the heat of the moment. It's driving me crazy.

Part of it has to do with who I am running. I am running a Great Dane. I am oh so aware of the comparative lack of runs I will get with her (and that we have in general) versus 95% of other breeds. So for every 20 runs they get that go wrong, we get one. Taking friend and fellow 24" competitor, Craig, as an example, his dogs can earn more points in a single run (before the multiplier) than we can in an entire weekend. It sucks. So when we have courses, like this weekend, that I feel very confident in and something happens that makes it go awry, I get upset. Very upset. JWW was like that both Friday and Saturday. We didn't even get to run the whole course! Today I went into the day with the mindset - at least I thought I had - that we would have fun no matter what. That was my goal and yet I really had hope for good results, too.

The most concerning area of this course, to me, was the dog walk to tunnel. Some dogs were coming off the dog walk and taking the #1 jump again. I wanted to get out of Vegas' way and hustle her across the walk as much as possible, but really struggled figuring out the best positioning to tell her what I wanted. I also saw a lot of people stepping across the end of the walk nearly pushing into their dog in order to make their turn into the tunnel as tight as possible and still allow them the distance back to get in place when the dog shot out of the tunnel. That, again, is where I have a slight advantage. Vegas isn't going to launch out of the tunnel at the same speed as an Aussie or a Dobe or nearly anyone else. A lot of people were really concerned about the turn from the chute to the single then triple jump. It was similarly angled as the hard pull yesterday was after the chute and dogs were overshooting all over the place. The problem was, people were front-crossing and getting in the dog's way causing the dog to pull up short and knock bars or run into them. So things were going well. Her weaves were solid. She was moving at a good pace. The yardage was 187 with an SCT of 69 again. We made it over the triple well since I was able to move out beyond the chute to the right side of the #16 jump. I called tired and then I called "over." I had pulled out a bit toward the a-frame. Vegas and I were running parallel to each other. And it happened. The one thing I hadn't considered, anticipated, or planned for beyond what was natural. She went for the table. I called her. It was too late. Off course. No Q. Hope for a double Q over. I was devastated. Three obstacles from the end and she went off course. Ugg. Heartbreak. Upset. And of course, my goal ended right there. I failed to uphold my intended attitude. To my credit, I was flying high. And I was cut so low. That's the worst feeling ever.

We went back to our tent. Vegas crated, Leo out. Leo back in the crate when he was wandering too much. I tried to take a nap. I mulled and stewed, shed a few tears, and stewed some more. Then I napped. And still I wondered if I should scratch her from JWW and go home. I even posted that I was going to on Facebook. And I mulled some more and decided that isn't who I am. I'm not a quitter. I don't give up without a fight. And JWW was once her game. It not being her game this weekend didn't mean we didn't have it in us. So we stayed. I chilled for a while, watched some of the other dogs run, tried to stay cool in our tent but it didn't work out, started to pack some of our stuff, and ended up hanging out inside the barn to stay cool (It was easily 15 degrees cooler inside.). I left Vegas and Leo in the truck with the A/C running when it was time to walk the course, with the windows down part way, of course, so I could get in should they lock the doors.

One tunnel, lots of turns, well measured (158 yards), good time (45 seconds). Twisty though. Lots of potential off courses and pitfalls. Same weave entrance as we had in standard. I started Vegas off well back from the first jump. We were actually backtoward the 29 yard mark in relation to the angle from #1. I wanted to give me as much of an advantage getting in position to queue her for the first sequence as possible. Fortunately the #9 was out so far it wasn't a potential off course. The first thing that happened was that I was so far ahead of her it was difficult to get in the right position. I ended up well ahead of #3 and "pushing" her to #4 and yet avoiding her running into me at the same time. Five to seven was much better but again I was ahead of her at 8 and pushing her over 9. Her weave entry was good, but a slow start. I really worked at her to get her moving quickly through the poles. She shot into the tunnel with decent speed and I was able to move out beyond the end to the lower/right side of the #13. Yes, she landed angled toward the inner part of the course but not as bad as some dogs had and we avoided anything resembling a clash of space to the triple. From there it was a matter of pushing ahead to make the loop back toward the finish complete with a rear cross at 18. I was still moving a bit more quickly than she was but she did well and pushed ahead to the final jump gaining some ground. We did it. I was so, so, SO very glad we stayed. It made the entire weekend worthwhile. It ended not only the weekend but the bad feelings and the 2011 AKC Invitational qualification period on a high note. I'm proud of my girl. So very proud and humbled and honored for her to belong to my heart. I still have much to work on in the way of patience, sportsmanship, competitiveness, and letting mistakes happen and not getting mad, but despite our Standard run, today was a good day. Because it taught me again that I have the best agility dog there is. That dog is KKZ's Apache Vegas Rose who earned a total of 212 MACH points and 8 QQs since July 1, 2010 and finished the invitational year as the #2 Great Dane in AKC. While we won't be going to the invitationals (They are in Florida.) this year, we earned the right. She earned the right. And that's enough for me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on the competetiveness. It's a running joke at work, how instead of having a team contest we have to have solo contests so I can dominate on my own.

    I'm sorry about the standard run. I can see Layla going for the table because she loves them, from always getting treats on the grooming table. I'm glad you stayed for JWW. I probably would've stayed, but for me, it's so hard to get over the defeated attitude and stay positive for the next run. I never really blame Layla, but still.

    Congrats on the JwW run, but ESPECIALLY congrats on your final standings! That's such a great accomplishment. #2 in the country is amazing.