Saturday morning dawned too early but we managed to get out of the house and down to the fairgrounds by 7:05. There was a bit of a jam up at the far end of the fairgrounds with a huge group bicycle ride occurring and hundreds of participants showing up. We got past that and as I was parking realized we were one of the first handful of people there. Not unusual at all, but interestingly enough, when time seemed to drag on after getting the rest of our gear hauled and set up in Camp Vegas, I thought it was kind of strange how late people were showing up. Well, there were two factors. One, this trial was originally two rings, two judges, but low entry caused them to go down to one judge, two rings alternating. Plus, they were running all Excellent classes first followed by Open then Novice. Last, they didn't start until 9 on Saturday and Sunday. Oops; guess I didn't read my final confirmation information that closely. Oh well. It meant we got to be leisurely about things. Saturday ran tall to small and Sunday ran small to tall. All said and done, either way was fine as there were under 90 runs in Excellent Standard and JWW. Wow; never been to an AKC show with that few runs. Guess that happens though in Oregon when there are both a ton of other dog events occurring the same weekend and it's an outdoor trial. Last year the same weekend, Friday was a rainy, mucky mess; Saturday we got sunburned; and Sunday was a sloppy, rainy mess again.
Our judge was Ann Croft. The courses looked like fun although the JWW was a bit challenging with some areas just shy of being repetitive but overlapping enough to risk getting lost on course. Our run order was Fast, JWW, then Standard. Vegas wasn't entered in Fast so we had JWW first then Standard later. It was already mid-70s when we ran JWW and I know she was hot already and running slow. Standard was in the low 80s and while that wouldn't be as big a deal, we have had NO transition whatsoever. In fact, just last weekend I had turned the heat on again in the house it was so cold. We've been in the 40s overnight and no higher than low 60s most of the last few weeks. 80s was quite the stunner. But before I get to the course, here are a couple of pictures....
So JWW Saturday. The first line was fairly simple to handle, in my opinion. The 3, 4, 5 sequence was a serpentine. Then I just had to "flip" her back the right direction to come to the #6 jump instead of going left. Fairly simple since there was nothing to draw her to the left. My next challenge was to get where I needed to for the tunnel. As we experienced in April, me not being able to run with the tunnel means she sometimes feels stalled out and questions whether that's what she's supposed to do, most times resulting in a refusal. So begins the bumbling buffoon handling job I made of the rest of this course. I ended up not in position so made do with what I had. I ran around the outside of the tunnel. Awkward! While the map doesn't make it look like a big deal to go from the tunnel to #8, it was actually a bit farther out and kind of in a bit. That meant I had to be in place to push her out to the jump. I ended up just getting past the tunnel, doing a blind cross and moving in front of the jump as she made the last stride before taking #8. That put me in place to have her on my left for the 9-11 section. The weave entrance was nice and with little to possibly attract her elsewhere. It was a little farther in distance than is sometimes nice and, yet again, better than landing and pushing into the weaves. She nailed her entrance and I worked her through every pole. I didn't have a lot of concern about the weaves going toward the fencing since it was the wide open white weave type that is visible up close but non-threatening as a barrier. From there was perhaps the trickiest part. A lot of handlers had problems. They rushed the last poles in the weaves to be in place for the double so they could avoid the off-course jump just after. So dogs popped out of the poles early or they rushed to catch up and knocked the bar (or wing) on the double. The #13 to the tunnel #14 was a bitch. Illogical from the dog's perspective and the wrong end of the tunnel grabbed a ton of dogs. Plus it was one of those hard on the dog's body turns for large dogs like Vegas. And it wasn't over yet. Then, similar to the #8 jump after the tunnel the first time, pushing out to the #15 jump required being close by and then having to turn from behind for the #16 to #17. Thank God Vegas handles well from behind with the "flip" maneuver we learned, courtesy of Craig, years ago. From there it was just a race to the finish. It was perhaps the second prettiest part of my handling on this course, second to the first six obstacles that went swimmingly. The rest I was in all the wrong places at the wrong times. But we qualified!
And oh the irony. We were one of two dogs in the 24" class that qualified. No freaking way! We gave up placing as soon as we moved into Excellent B. The 24" competition is just too fast. So I satisfied myself with just qualifying. But we placed! Great job, Vegas! Oh, and the irony I mentioned...? I'm still getting to it. The SCT was 48. The course yardage was 181. Our time: 48.56. With the multiplier still in effect until September, what is 50% of 0? Yea; there's the irony. Oh, and for the record, I'm not being sarcastic at all. I found the irony quite amusing. After all, Vegas gave me all she had in hot weather qualifying for our 19th MXJ leg. There was nothing to be upset about especially considering the poor job I did at parts of the course. It was our first run back after six weeks off, the longest we have ever gone without competing, and it was rough but we made it.
After JWW the goal was to stay cool. It was getting more difficult though, with no breeze, few to no clouds, and a blazing sun. Albeit, the weather was gorgeous, but wow was it hot. So the dogs and I mostly hung out in our humble abode, lying on the floor in front of the fan. And Vegas wanting to snuggle/spoon a bit. Silly girl.
We ran Standard around 2pm. Things were going pretty darn slow considering how few dogs and the fact that we had two rings so no wait time on course setup. Oh well.
All said and done, it was a great run. Vegas did really well although I know she was completely hot. I had kept her cool coat on her almost the entire day, re-wetting it as needed including soaking it while she was wearing it and running the cool water on her under-belly, plus keeping her in the shade and/or in front of the fan. But hot is hot and with little air movement we were all feeling it. Poor girl. I felt like I was going to have to put her on the table when I watched her move toward it as if she were running through pudding.
The yardage was 187; SCT 64. Our time was 61.32. Barely made it, but made it we did. Double Q #8 and a couple of MACH points. Not too shabby for a trial we entered at the last minute with a lot of weather risk as to its success. Plus, and here's the best part, this was our MX title! In our run for the MX we had 19 attempts, 10 successes, and it took from November 12 until June 4. But we did it! Now that we have that title completed it's just the MACH we go for. Of course and still having a lot of fun working together. I was very proud of my baby girl, though. She is all heart.
German Shepherd Dog Club of Oregon has really nice awards and did a great job with the show. And we got a new title ribbon! :) A really pretty one, too, I might add.
So after Standard I had gone and looked at the SCT and yardage and was checking to see if scoring was done. Our friend, Jami, was there doing the data entry for each class and made a comment that they discovered a problem with the SCT calculation and it looked like we would have some MACH points after all. Super cool! Turns out the club's computers didn't get the AKC software updated subsequent to the rule changes in September of last year so the extra time alloted for 24" dogs wasn't in the original scores posted. So our "big" correction for the day and to top everything off that we had already achieved? The SCT for JWW was 51 seconds giving us two MACH points plus 50% equals three MACH points. Yay! And, the SCT for Standard was 69 seconds so we had seven points. A total of 10 MACH points, a double Q, a second place, and our MX title. Could the day have gotten any better?
After our last run and some wind down time, visiting, wandering, getting a delicious peach smoothie, the dogs and I lay down in our tent for a while longer. I was waiting to work a class that I had signed up for to help out and things were still running fairly slow unfortunately. Rumor had it today when I got there that things didn't finish up until around 7 pm. I think there must have been some really tired people and dogs.
After all that to do yesterday, Vegas and I got home just about 5 pm. We chilled for a few then I fed her. We left at 5:45 for drill team practice. Yikes. She was so tired but still worked as best she could. Then she had to try to be patient while I taught the last week of my foundation class and even gave a few bursts of energy on giving a demonstration to the class. Did I mention my girl is a super star?
Today we didn't show up as early. In fact, running small to tall and starting at 9, we showed up at 9. Fast only ran Saturday so we jumped right into Standard. I was glad Standard was first today since that is the class that gives us the greater potential for MACH points and I was hoping for her to be able to run while things were still cool. Fortunately it was that "just right" temperature with a lightly clouded over sky and plenty of breeze. In fact, we didn't see the sun really push through until late morning/noon which was just perfect.
JWW wasn't too far off and surprisingly it was still pretty comfortable out. This time I managed to eek out a much better handling job. Thank God cause I didn't want to have Vegas out looking for a new handler!
And that concludes our first of four weekends in a row of agility. Great people. Great times. Great courses. Great runs. Plus sunshine, fresh air, and time with my doggies. Life can't get better than that.
Except that we ran out again this evening for a meat pickup for the dogs. Leo rode along this time and I left Vegas to rest. The farmer was nice enough to give us a leg of lamb and two lamb chops free in addition to what we were buying. So Vegas scored lamb chops for breakfast. She ought to be thrilled.
MACH Tallies: 172 points/8 QQ