Sunday, June 5, 2011

GSDCO AKC Agility, Canby

Wow what a weekend. The forecasters were calling for mid-80s. Well, in Oregon we take that with a pound of salt since they're more often wrong than right. As Friday neared it definitely was looking possible though. After work Friday I made a spur of the moment decision to load a couple things and head to the fairgrounds to set up our spot then. It would save me time Saturday morning and it's rare that we get to trial that close to home (The fairgrounds in Canby, Oregon are about 20 minutes from my home in Wilsonville.). I also took my boys along with me to help set up our shade tent. My pop-up got crumpled like a house of cards in some wind last summer so what we were going to use is a regular tent design with screened sides and no floor. I was grateful for their help. We also went ahead and left Vegas' big crate, too, so I didn't have to lug it by myself on Saturday early. That done, the kids and I headed home and I proceeded to stay up way too late finishing a collar order, making several new ones for Vegas, and generally not moving my fastest getting the rest of our things organized.

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....

We got really lucky with where we set up. Since camping is allowed at the fairgrounds for events, there is a strip of outlets running along the fence line. When I saw that setting up Friday night I figured I would bring along a real fan and an extension cord. Here we have homemade A/C on Saturday when it was really hot out.
Just chilling Sunday morning before our runs. Fortunately it was breezy and still in the mid-60s so she was a happy camper.
Two of the maps from this weekend have JoAnn Mather's name on them. Those were the courses she designed when she was scheduled to be here. With the low entry, her courses came with Ann judging. :)

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.

Here's standard:
I walked this course both during the open walk through while JWW was still running and during the regular walk through. There were just a couple of spots I wanted to really work out how to handle. The first was just the a-frame to tunnel. Front cross? Rear cross? Come up the left and front cross? Run up the right and pull/push into the tunnel? Choices, choices. I ended up coming up the left side and then facing her at the contact and bringing her to the tunnel using my right- arm to send her. Then I stepped out good on the tunnel so she would give herself room to approach the dog walk adequately. From there I front-crossed at the end of the dog walk to #6, pushed out to #7, and ran for the table calling a "stay" command. I had planned on a front cross after #11 to swing into the pinwheel but that didn't happen. I should have know. A straight line like that is just calling Vegas' name. She beat me there so I pulled her with my right shoulder to the #12 and then rear/flipped her to #13. I walked the weaves working either side and I think I ended up staying on the left side of the weaves and pulling her to the tire then flipping to the last jump. But I don't recall for sure now.

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.

I love her new title ribbon! The 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.
It was kind of funny. Before I had hardly looked at the course people were saying Ann (our judge) was pointing out right away that the course was not her design. I didn't really see any problem with it other than the wrap for 3 to 4 and the weave entrance. She also reminded people to pay attention where they were running as they didn't want to run into the teeter when focused on the dog walk. She pointed out the distance between the end of the teeter and the dog walk was legal at 13 feet but wanted people to be cautious so they weren't hurt. Recently there was a handler at another trial who ran into the teeter hitting herself right in the upper breast bone area and broke three ribs. Ouch. 'Nuf said. So I was mostly worried about 3-5. I decided to come down to the front of the a-frame, front cross and send her to over the jump and wrap back toward the a-frame. That's not what happened but what did happen worked well and was very smooth. I front crossed to send her over the jump then front crossed again to pull her back around the far side of the jump so I was in position to move up on the chute on the left. Then came the question: how to handle the weave entrance. It was quite a ways out to the weaves. Coming out of the chute she's almost always a bit stalled out these days as she has to get her bearings on where to go. I decided to run out to the fence and call her then front cross into the weaves. That way I hoped I didn't push her into the weaves and miss her entry. Well, it didn't work as planned. I stalled her out at the weaves since the pull to the fence didn't give her enough room to really gain momentum. So that was a refusal. Then I bumbled and didn't move her back enough to have space to move into the weaves so it was just plain awkward. But wow, when she did her weaves it was beautiful! Fast, smooth, and with the two footed step that usually much smaller dogs do. And then I tripped. Yowza. What a bumbling handler I was again! I tripped over a ring crew person that I never even saw. Apparently I got too close to the fence and there was a person there! Oy, thank goodness I didn't fall but I feel bad they apologized to me. It was my fault! I wish I'd looked to see who it was but I was too focused on Vegas. She made it out of the weaves to the double but sadly I was just too far behind to get her directed to the jump afterward. I made the decision to let the run go and we left the course. No sense in wearing on her body when I'd messed it up and we were ending on a high moment. She took the triple at the end for good measure though. She got lots of treats and loves and we chilled some more in our tent.

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!
In walking this course I had a front cross planned after #4 into the tunnel then hoped to get a front cross in for the weaves. That all worked out and she nailed her weaves. The bad part was that coming out of the weaves, moving to the right, and pushing over the #9 jump, we took down a bar. Otherwise she moved on to #10 and wrapped back around toward the inside of the course to #11 and the rest was a breeze with no more side changes. Unfortunately we took down the last bar, too. Not sure if I pulled up short or what. Oh well. She ran fast, she had fun, and our friend Kim commented on how darn happy she looked coming over the last jump.

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.
KKZ's Apache Vegas Rose, RN, CL3, CL4-R, CL4-F, OF, MXJ, MX

MACH Tallies: 172 points/8 QQ

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