Sunday, September 25, 2011

Portland Agility Club AKC Agility Trial September 2011 - Sunday

Today started way too early. Sometimes I have to wonder why I do this to myself. But then I get to the show site and get to run my girl and, well, it all makes sense. Seriously running on empty here and have a new employee starting tomorrow so going to make this recap short and sweet.

We weren't entered in Fast today and we were running tall to small. Standard was up first - a nice course that looked doable and fun.
Sadly it sort of fell apart from the get-go. We knocked the bar on the second jump right off the bat. It was nice and cool this morning and Vegas was feeling pretty frisky when we went in the ring so my thought was she landed long from the tire and just didn't collect for the jump. Knocking bars is pretty unusual for her unless I do something to get in her way. This afternoon Craig and I spoke and he wasn't watching closely but actually had felt she didn't have the speed she needed to clear the bar. That puzzled me as it was the opposite of what I'd thought. The video is fairly telling, though, at least to me. I think the reason was the former. If you watch you'll see her running versus striding. She was moving out and just didn't give herself the time to stride and collect. Feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong...I really need to learn to read these things better. I may re-process the video tomorrow at a slow speed on that section to see even better.
The other thing that happened was that I front crossed after the weaves. It was one of those moments where your body does something and your mind screams, "What the heck?!" It was too late to stop myself and by then I wasn't handling and following through like I should. So naturally she did what was expected. Major bummer with our fumbles because her time was decent. SCT was 63 and she ran it in 54.39. If we hadn't fumbled she probably would have been a second or two faster, at least. Oh well. No harm, no foul. We had a nice little run (of Qs) going until then.

We had a bit of a wait until JWW since they had to run all the Novice and Open Fast and JWW classes first in that ring. We visited, chilled out, walked outside, got rained on a bit, and watched the other Danes running (Soooooo glad to have Lindsay, Heffner, and Bess running local trials again!). The course looked fun - challenging, but fun. There were some opportunities for mistake but in all honesty some of the spots that could be for the Excellent course were worse for the Open dogs.

There was a bit of drama for the 24" dogs though. The SCT written up on the check-in board said 38 seconds. Even the very fast dogs were like, yeah, not much chance there. Thank you, Craig!, for chatting with the judge. Yep, some mistakes had happened including getting the wrong yardage written down thus the calculation wrong. Oops! Thankfully they fixed it; SCT was 46 seconds for 164 yards.
Things went quite well. I did feel like I was struggling to get her to move out and pick up the pace but when I watched the video she was mostly steady. Maybe we just need a slightly faster steady. Haha. I almost lost her at the tunnel after #15 because I thought I had her and took my eye off her. Fortunately we saved it. Our time was 44.03. One JWW Q today and 1 more point.

We stuck around to watch Lindsay's last run with Bess in Open Standard then loaded up, got our final scores and ribbons, and headed for home a little after 4. I unloaded what I had to and ended up napping on the couch with Vegas for about two hours. She put herself right to bed after dinner and is still peacefully snoring. Sweet girl. God I'm so lucky.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Portland Agility Club AKC Agility Trial September 2011 - Saturday

Yay for agility trial weekends! Boo for early mornings! Today started 5:34 am - abruptly. I don't recall snoozing or turning my alarm off, but when I launched out of bed it was 11 minutes to my goal time of leaving home. Yikes! Got the dogs pottied and fed, had a quick shower, woke my youngest son up, and hauled the last crap out the door. Loaded the dogs and we were off at 5:59. Whew! After a quick Starbucks stop we were on our way up the freeway. Thought we were going to get stuck in some traffic just north of town because our three lane interstate went to two lanes then just one but we muddled through with minimal delay. Our arrival at the Clark County Event Center was about 6:40 am. We were one of about three cars there so I was counting my blessings. But when we went inside - it was dark, first of all - most of the crating area was already occupied! Crap. Our usually abundant crating was not so much and I worried about even finding a spot that wasn't along the "hot" wall - the one the sun beat down against.

Fortunately we squeezed into a spot and set our stuff up. I'm trying to market my collars and pet sewing projects a bit more in hopes of earning some money for our invitational trip. I made this pocketed hanging organizer for our x-pen to stick business cards in and to use for display, too.

The trial is being hosted by the Portland Agility Club (PAC) who hosts several AKC trials each year. Our judges are David Hirsch and Lori Sage (also a local competitor, trial secretary, and provider of agility equipment). We ran small to tall today and will run tall to small tomorrow. Today, Fast was offered and we were entered.
Sometimes I think I'm dyslexic. When I looked at the map I was planning a course that involved taking the send from 2-3-10. Perhaps it's less a dyslexia than it is an organized brain that automatically put the numbers in ascending order? Whichever, I still thought it fairly doable but was pleased to find otherwise when I walked the course. Below is my planned course.
I almost was going to push for #7 after the a-frame but after walking and talking the course through with our friend, Beth, I decided not to. Especially because if I planned to skip the weaves there was a long stretch between the teeter and the final jump or two that would be otherwise just running. That's always hard on Vegas, it seems. She loves to take the obstacles so it doesn't make sense to bypass them. I will say, too, my goal was to send her into the tunnel and beat feet to the other end of the send to draw her straight down the line toward me.

I'm pleased to say it totally worked! She got out of the tunnel just after I got down to the line and it was really cool to call her to me in that way. I was so excited about this course - we've tried Fast again a few times lately and while we've gotten the send bonuses (Yay!), we've lost out on that Q due to time and points. Our time on this course was a smoking 22.91 and she totally had enough points! The required points was 60; Vegas had 70! I'm so proud of my girl and an amazing time, too. I kind of wish we had done the weaves, but hindsight is always 50/50. We'll take it! That was our second Excellent A Fast leg; we need just one more for our XF title. Yahoo!

Thanks to my son, Zach, for videoing.
Next up was Standard but good gracious did we have a killer wait. We ran Fast around 9:15 or so I suppose. We didn't run Standard until almost 2 pm. Yikes! The course had some similarities to the MCDF trial from two weekends ago. Note the chute start and the dog walk to tunnel sequence.
My plan with standard was to give her a nice big running start into the chute and work from the inside. I hoped to bring her down off the dog walk far enough to have a tad bit of momentum into the tunnel (That's one of my least favorite setups.) and then come out in front of the tunnel exit to call her over the teeter. I was going to be on the right side of the teeter but that's not when I ended up doing, which was fine. My goal then was to work from the inside on the tire-single-triple (7-9) sequence, using a "flip" command to turn her into the weaves. I'm starting to think of most of my maneuvers as rear wheel drive - not that I'm always behind but because I don't often make front crosses; rears and blinds work better for us. From the weaves I was, again, going to work from the right side, no crosses necessary, until I used the "flip" command again at #13 and then rear-crossed.

Everything went really well. It wasn't particularly comfortable at that point; late September and we hit the mid-80s - who would have thunk? I'd hosed Vegas down two separate times over about a 15 minute span of time prior to our run to help. Here's what bugs me about our runs today. I was over-managing things and letting success get in the way of my handling so that I had some panic in my voice on areas where I knew there could be potential for off courses, etc. Ugg! I hate when I do that. I know it slows Vegas down and makes her check with me more often. I also know it has the potential to demotivate her and make her lose confidence. Plus I feel like a shrew! There were a couple of spots on this course I did that. Fortunately, I did have something to be pleased with myself for. I applied a lesson I learned this last week to our a-frame performance. At least I did one thing intentionally that was of importance to working with my girl. I'll cover the details of that in a later post on the topic of that lesson.

The yardage on the course was 180; SCT was 67 for 24" dogs. I'm happy to say that Vegas ran this course cleanly in 55.93, earning us 11 MACH points and our second Q of the day.
Thanks to Lindsay for videoing Standard and JWW.

JWW was late in the day. We finally ran around 4:30 pm. Thankfully there were no tunnels in the course and it looked like it would be a lot of fun with some room to open up and move.
I had checked the gate sheet and had about 12-15 dogs or so. I went down to wet Vegas down and got to chatting with a friend. When I headed back to see where things were at, the gate steward let me know we were up. I was like, "We're up? Right now?" Yep. The dog in front of us was just leaving the ring. I threw off my bait bag and headed into the ring. Talk about no time to fret or think - just jump in and do it. My plan, again, was to work from one side and use "flips" and rear crosses in applicable places. This was both the plan and execution for the first sequence, 1-4, with a rear cross after 4 and a flip at the #10 jump. I almost thought Vegas was going to miss her entry or go past the weaves because of the momentum and movement forward she had. I need to remember to just trust - she knows what she's doing on weaves now and has been solid for almost a year (never missing an entry or popping out). She's just enjoying them more than she used to and thus diving right in.

After the weaves I found that I had pushed forward a bit much and had to pull back so that I didn't send her around the #12 jump. From there I was going to front cross when she was committed to #15, and then flip her over 17 to turn to 18 and run for the finish. She was a bit slow but it was pretty darn hot (mid-80s) and humid.
Once again, my girl rocked the house! 41.22 seconds; SCT was 43. Not a lot of points, sure, but another QQ (our third in a row). This actually made three Qs for the day so we get to pick up a gorgeous ribbon from the club tomorrow morning. I never tire of those things!

Our current MACH tally is: 11 QQs and 270 points. Oh, and one very tired Vegas. She put herself to sleep tonight and got up only when our friend and her dogs showed up. She's grumbling behind me on the bed now telling me it's time to go lights out. It'll be a short while still though. My son is at his sophomore homecoming dance and I have to go pick him up.

McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers Videos

Saturday's Videos:

Sunday's Videos: 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baseline Lab Results

I'm kind of ashamed to admit it, but I had never had Vegas' blood drawn for any testing except pre-anesthetic bloodwork when she was spayed. There never seemed to be a need and she has always been healthy. It was on my to do list and just kept getting pushed out.

Coming up on going to Florida, it was recommended that I put her on a heartworm preventative. When dogs haven't been on a preventative for a while, they have to get tested first. We stopped in Saturday afternoon and, when I inquired into the pricing of a full blood panel, went ahead and decided to just do it all at once. I'm glad I did so that I know for sure that what she's getting diet-wise is doing everything it needs to for her plus so that I have baseline results when she's healthy. Here they are:

When the vet called me to go over her results, the only thing "off" was her glucose reading. There's a funny story to that...needless to say, it was a false reading. The glucose level measured at 21. Normal is 71-130 or so. The vet I spoke with said that the false result was likely the delay from when the blood was drawn until it was tested. She said that Vegas wouldn't have been moving if she was really 21 and noted that she was in the day I brought Vegas in. Have I ever mentioned how connected to me Vegas is? LOL. Once I get her through the door to the treatment room at the vet, she's usually fine and cooperative for them. However, getting her there is the first challenge. The tech that brought her back to me was A) drug back to me, toenails sliding and digging into the laminate flooring all the way down the hall and, B) got lifted off her feet by Vegas when she stood up in the treatment room. Apparently she'd been standing behind Vegas when they drew the blood and when they were done, well, Vegas stood up and the tech went with her. Oops! They all had a good laugh about that and we agreed there's nothing to worry about with regard to her glucose level. So now she'll go on a heartworm preventative just to make sure we avoid those nasty little buggers. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

OMG It's for Real!!!!!!

I bought a plane ticket and booked my hotel today for the 2011 AKC Agility Invitational. It's for real. We're going. Wow. All the way to Florida with my big girl. I'm so excited. And scared to death. When you start competing with a dog, how do you plan for this day? Do you? Are you supposed to? I feel like it just happened. And wow. It's still overwhelming and amazing and shocking and scary.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers Agility Day 2

Catching up again! I'd say the show was good last weekend but I hardly remember it now. LOL. We had to check out of the hotel and despite being exhausted the night before we stayed up later than we should have so the morning was a bit of a rush. We (my son and I) did make it in time, though, hauled our stuff and the dogs in, and I ran to walk the Standard course.

Before the day actually got started the trial secretary and club played the national anthem in honor of the 10th anniversary of the tragedy on 9/11. It was a nice touch and good to publicly remember.

We were running tall to small so big dogs were up in fairly short order. The first thing I'll comment on with regard to this course is how long the tunnel was and how much I dislike entrances such as for #3. Aside from that, I didn't have a lot to complain about. ;-)

Most people walking the course were concerned about getting into position for the weaves out of that tunnel. There's where being a little slower in the tunnel had its advantage. I wasn't calling Vegas back from the tunnel to line her up as I made it out and was able to queue her when she came out of the tunnel. I didn't give much thought to the #14 as an off course option when walking the course but almost caused it because I forgot how much of a pull back the line was from the #5 jump to 6-7. The next handling challenge was from the table. Some people tried to threadle the 11-13 sequence. For some that also meant on off course over the back of #7. I chose to go out in front of #11 and front cross to the 12 and 13.
We finished the course clean in 57.94 seconds. SCT was 69. I was ecstatic! We, correction, I have such a hard time with Standard. I always mess something up. This was amazing. 25 points between these two runs alone. I was so very proud of my girl, especially with my conservation AKA panicky handling. I was letting so much ride on the runs last weekend that I know my handling was pretty shaky. But Vegas dealt and did so well.

On to JWW....
Our judge apologized during briefing about the opening to this course. Since this trial was originally two judges, her designing additional courses somewhat last minute meant she didn't check them as she would have otherwise for such similarities. Let's just say most competitors didn't mind. After the #4 jump the big circle brought us back to another 180 and across the back stretch. The next challenge was to figure out how hard to push in for the tunnel but still be able to get back in front of #13. That way I led with Vegas on my left into the 13-18 sequence. Next I had to make sure I queued the weaves before losing her to the tunnel. From there we were home free...well, you never really think that until the last obstacle is clear and clean, but you know what I mean!

Guess who ran this clean and double-Qd again? My girl...2/2 JWW and 2/2 Standard for the weekend. I couldn't have been more happy. She did so well, and was so happy. Four points on JWW gave us a total of 30 points for the weekend. We also marked the halfway point in QQs and one-third of the way on points. What a weekend...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers Agility Day 1

This weekend we're in Eugene, OR for the McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers AKC agility trial. The trial is being held indoors at the Lane County Fairgrounds and originally should have been a two ring, two judge show. Entries were low so they cut back to one judge. Fortunately we still have the space in the horse arena for the two rings so it makes transitioning from class to class quicker. They ran Fast first today followed by Standard then JWW. Excellent went first in each case but followed by each of the other levels before switching rings and classes. It worked out okay and things didn't heat up too much. We're having unseasonably hot temperatures for September...mid-90s in the Willamette Valley and may have even beat a record temperature today that was set in the 1940s. Pretty crazy stuff. Fortunately our friend, Rachel, lives down here and was able to save us crating space the other day and, when we arrived in Eugene early this morning I saw that the club had a couple of kiddie pools out for the dogs and a hose hooked up to the faucet.

Usually this trial venue is really tight on crating space. Like ridiculously tight and almost impossible to crate inside unless you can reserve a spot early. The low entry is really great for this venue and actually made the entire day go much more smoothly and in a relaxed manner. In the past this hasn't been a great venue due to the club being so obnoxious and pushy about working - and not in a good way. I'm really pleased with things so far.

Our judge was new to us...Jan Skurzynski. She runs Border Collies and while I didn't solicit any commentary on her courses, some big dog people I know made comments and said her wheel is tight. That's never a good sign but I didn't think too much of it. Shortly after I heard that I took a look at the Standard course time. I was pleasantly surprised that it was 68 seconds. I figured that sounded completely fair.

Vegas was entered in Fast today. Still running them periodically in an attempt to get those remaining two legs for her Excellent A Fast title. Here is the course:
When looking at the course map I figured the send was doable even though we don't work distance. The start line gave me minimal options for revving Vegas up and going but it was okay. I figured I would get back a bit off the line and go over the single jump farthest to the right and closest to the start line. That way we'd be moving directly at the first send jump. From there I had to move on ahead and call the teeter followed by a very timely "Out tunnel" command. I was so pleased with Vegas - she did it all immediately! She didn't even look at the wrong end of the tunnel which was a definite possibility since it was the closest to me. Whoohoo! From there we were going to the a-frame > tire > weaves then the single, over the panel, and the singles back to the finish jump. Sadly I didn't quite support the a-frame all the way and she strode/launched right over the contact so no points. With her momentum we went ahead and took the tire anyway but instead of moving on to the weaves I took her back over the a-frame. That worked fine but I didn't plan well on my feet so we didn't earn enough points. I was very proud of her anyway and the errors were on my part. She's totally rocking these sends which makes me very happy!

I worked the novice fast class so had some time to spend in between our run and then. Once novice was run we immediately moved over to standard. Here's the course:
It had some intricacies and areas that gave all of us running big dogs concern. Namely, the upper right corner of the map area had some tight spots. The dog walk had potential for an off course at the tunnel - which Vegas definitely looked at when we ran. Having a choice between the teeter and the a-frame presented another potential pitfall. I figured I would rear the teeter and "flip" Vegas from the #5 jump into the weaves. Unfortunately I seem to be getting faster - not that she was running slow at all - and I was in the wrong place. She came off the teeter on my right and we moved to the jump and turned to the weaves together. She nailed them beautifully. I planned and nailed a front cross after the #9 panel and had hoped for a front cross/hard "touch" command at the a-frame but wasn't firm enough or Vegas wanted to keep moving. Anyway, the next pitfall possibility in that back corner was the jump on the way or instead of the table. Fortunately she read me well and didn't go off course. No matter which side I considered moving toward the tunnel I worried about her side-jumping over the jump or taking the wrong end of the table. Would you believe my rockstar did neither and nailed the correct end of the tunnel? From there we ran together to finish the course in an amazing 53.50 seconds. Fourteen MACH points and it turns out we were third place! Her YPS was 3.41; the first place dog was 3.92. I was so proud of Vegas!

My oldest son is with me for the weekend while his brother camps with the family. He wanted to go to the Oregon Ducks football game so we headed for Autzen Stadium as soon as we were done. I knew I had some time since they were going to run Open then Novice Standard courses before JWW. Long story short, he didn't end up going to the game. We drove around in insane game day traffic and after asking umpteen people about where to buy tickets at the gate, learned the line was ridiculous long and he didn't want to wait and miss most of the game. Bummer! He was a trooper about it though and we headed back to the fair complex.
Jumpers looked to be a fun course with room to move again and yet some interesting challenges. There was only one tunnel which was awesome. I'm thinking now in retrospect that if this is a habit for this judge I could totally be game for running under her again...a single tunnel in each course. Can't get better for a Dane than that!

I planned on handling from the right through the 180 and then moving into a front cross to handle from the left. There was a little concern over hitting the wrong end of the tunnel, but she did just fine. We haven't had a weave entrance out of a tunnel for a while and the way Vegas comes out of the tunnel is usually a launch with her head up. I know from past experience and thanks to Craig's teaching that I really have to get her focus on me and not lose her head. Plus there was a good distance between the tunnel and the weaves. Not to worry - she did just fine. When am I going to learn to trust my girl? She's so rock solid it's just plain amazing. It's me that messes up!

We had another 180 coming up so I planned another front cross. Then we headed for the triple The tunnel was inviting and we may have lost a fraction of a second when I didn't queue the turn from the triple as quick as I should. But she did fine. I rear crossed at the #14/15 sequence and we finished the course in 39.81. SCT was 41. A double Q!!!! We haven't had one of those in quite a while and it was quite the high. I was so proud of my girl. We could have been a bit faster if not for my worry and over-thinking/handling some things. But a Q is a Q and a double Q is even more. We earned just one MACH point on this.

Our current count is 9 QQs and 244 MACH points. And we have tomorrow to go. Very proud of Miss V and a shout out to Rachel and Harry Potter, too, who earned 16 MACH points today and also a QQ. A very good agility day for the non-typical working breed dogs. :)

(Video to come later...)

Rogue Canine Agility Day 3

A little late and on the heels of another trial, but here's our Labor Day Monday and day 3 of the awesome RCA trial update. I have to express how much I loved this trial venue, though. Some of the things that are most difficult with trialing are the pressure to work and run your dog well without neglecting him or her, their warm-up, their reward, and crunching time so you feel more pressured when it's time to run. This venue had it all. The weather was in the upper 90s and while the entry was relatively small, the club ran things very well. They ran excellent classes followed by open then novice. That meant that the majority of competitors at any given time was the ones running in their own class. There's some crossover, of course, but no matter what, even when multiple jobs needed to be filled, the RCA peeps were totally cool. Which meant the positions did get filled and people did so with a smile. The relaxed - yet extremely efficient - atmosphere helped to solidify my decision to come back at the end of October. Our entry went in the mail Tuesday.

Okay, so the day promised to be hot again but fortunately we weren't running Fast, excellent classes were first, and we ran Tall to Small. Standard was first followed by JWW.
So in reviewing the map on this one I had planned on working from the right of the first jump initially and trying to get a cross in for the 180 to #3. Not sure where my brain was in making that choice but fortunately that's why we have walk-throughs. Instead, I planned to set Vegas up at a severe angle to #1 so #2 would be in her sights. That way I would start on the left, too. Then I'd be in the position to just pivot for the 180 and send her into the tunnel. I had some thoughts toward whether I had to worry about the off course tunnel but it wasn't as close as it looks on the map and really was a non-issue. From there I planned to be next to the #5 jump and rear cross the #6 into the pinwheel. I was going to rear cross at the a-frame, meet her at the end, then send to the table. Because being on Vegas' left going into the tunnel made me worry about stalling her out, I had hoped to get a rear cross in on the teeter, too. The weave entrance looked nice and from there we could be home free. Sadly I have minimal body awareness and screwed up our entire course by dropping a shoulder (not something I knew until someone else told me later) and pulled her off the #7 in the pinwheel. I was anticipating the next jump and fortunately Vegas reads me so well, she just did what my body said. Dangit! There went our third chance for a Standard leg last weekend. It was a major bummer cause that's where we have an opportunity to get more points. My fault though; Vegas came through like a champ.
Jumpers. Two big circles. No tunnels. Lots of room to get out and move. Looked like a fun course! I set Vegas up facing jump 2 which meant she was way off toward the wall of the arena and at a hard angle to the first jump. I figured it gave us the most direct route and I trust her to adjust her body not to hit the standard or knock a bar. The turns in the large circles required a bit more shoulder dropping and finesse than I would have thought but that was because there was so much room it gave more time to consider taking something else since jumpers were, well, everywhere. She ran it smoothly and well though without a hitch. She earned another MXJ3 leg and 3 more MACH points. I was very proud of my girl. Three JWW legs for the weekend and a lot of fun. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rogue Canine Agility Day 2

Today dawned sunny and bright.....well, it did, but it also dawned early. Too early. The dogs started getting antsy before the alarm went off at 6. So we turned the alarm off and took them all out to do their thing, feed them breakfast, and then got ready. We still had plenty of time to kill as we were figuring on loading the dogs up by 7 and grabbing a bite to eat at the hotel. We read a little and then were ready to go.

Fast was up first today. I don't enter Fast often but I did today. I'd like to get those two remaining Excellent A legs and be done with that last all together. We don't train distance or layering so it's one of those things that's never easy for us. Today's course was a pleasant surprise, though, and I thought it doable.
I loved the long line of jumps leading up to the first send obstacle. Usually with the first run of the day and a long line of jumps like that I have a good chance of having a revved up Vegas. Here's what my plan was:
32 seconds and 60 points. I didn't think about the time going into this. I'm glad I didn't or I might have gotten discouraged. First I should mention that I thought the start line was all across the arena so two dogs before I ran I realized where it actually was. Darn! Slight adjustment and we started behind the line angled toward the first jump as shown above in my planned path. It meant Vegas angling back inward but she did that just fine. She was moving, I was moving, but what happened totally makes sense. I think perhaps if I hadn't been moving out so fast, my abrupt stop at the line wouldn't have been so obvious. She pulled back just short of the first jump in the send bonus so I had to correct and figured I'd give it one try. I brought her back around to the third jump in the line and managed to gain enough speed she was over the first send jump! From there I figured the tunnel made sense and if I was able to get beyond the jump after the tunnel I thought she would take it. She did! I was soooo incredibly proud of my girl! I brought her around and we did in fact complete the rest of the course I outlined above with the exception of the tire making the turn to the jump on the right side. Leaving the course I knew that if nothing else, we got the send and I was immensely pleased with Vegas. It was an incredible feeling to start the day. Turns out we didn't Q as we lost points on time plus were short 1 or so anyway. But who cares?! It was a great run.
Our Standard course today looked like a lot of fun, a couple tricky spots, but totally doable. Here's how I figured on handling things:

  • I would be on the right moving out from the start so I could make sure I pushed into the tunnel instead of pulling her into the off side. 
  • I would then back off and be in the inside (left) for obstacles 4 and 5 with a rear cross planned for the teeter. 
  • I figured I would rear cross #9 to pull her back to the table and avoid the a-frame. She loves the a-frame so there was definite potential for an off course there although they weren't too close. 
  • While Vegas was on the table I figured I would back out and be in the right side of the table to put me in the inside position for 12-13.
  • I had plenty of room to front cross after 13 into the chute and that way I could remain on the inside until the finish. 
Everything was going beautifully. Until I screwed up. I knew it immediately. In that split second that I queued Vegas and screwed up our Q chances, she looked at me and told me clearly I was wrong but she trusted me enough to listen. I was ahead of her where I didn't want to be which is why I did what I did. I was far out on the right of the #9 and ahead of her so knew to rear cross I would run into her. Instead I told her "Out Table!" She looked at me as if to say, "Really? But this jump is right here in front of me." Literally it was a stride from taking off and she adjusted BEAUTIFULLY to do exactly what I told her. Poor girl. She's so reliable and rockin' and I messed us up. I knew it and told her how sorry I was through the rest of the course which was completely beautiful, of course. God how I love my girl and how amazing she is. She runs like a dream and while I am still feeling crappy for my screw-up, I know that I have the bestest girlie ever. 
JWW was a course I was sweating and cursing from the time I looked at the map this morning. Yeah; it was one of those courses. Herky. Jerky. Pulling. Yanking. Poor dog course. And it an extent. The start was very demotivating, I found. From 2 to 3 I almost lost her because she was looking for what obstacle she was supposed to do and there was nothing there that made sense. And then I was asking her to pull around in a 270+ turn followed by an enticing tunnel. But wait! You can't take the tunnel! From there it wasn't so bad. My plan and what I ended up doing were to stay on the left through the weaves but be out beyond the end of the weaves when she came out so I could push to the correct end of the tunnel. Then I would work the right side 8-11 with a front cross into 12. At first I hated the idea of the 19-20. It seemed fruitless. I get that it makes sense to send the dog away from the one setting up/starting but it's hard on the body and just a "wrong" type of motion. To me anything lacking some sort of flow seems too hard on a giant breed's body. It worked out okay but I still hate to have Vegas land and immediately ask her to turn and jump again the opposite direction. As she was coming over #18, I turned and looked at the clock. I have never done that mid-course but I knew it would be tough. We had 47 seconds. We cleared the course clean, our third MXJ3 leg, in 46.14. No MACH points, which was a bummer, but a Q and clean on a tough course. I am proud of my girl. 

And that was the day. Rachel and I had planned on going to try and find a place on the Rogue River to play with the dogs and avoid sitting in a boring hotel all day, but it didn't work out that way. Everything was deep and swift and after trying several places, we gave up. Here's the one picture I got at the first place we stopped. I'm sure there are beautiful places to walk and hike but it was just too hot and too much asphalt radiating the 97 degree day into too much heat for dog pads. 
Our last stop before the hotel was the Dairy Queen right next door for kiddie cones for the dogs. That turned into another disaster but in a kind of hilarious way. I couldn't get my wallet, etc. put away before they had our three cones ready and, of course, two people driving with three cones with a small dog on my lap on a hot day....well, I gave Vegas hers and she swallowed the ice cream immediately and crunched the cone down in one additional bite (two chomps). Lexi was taking her time and Harry Potter doing a fairly quick job of it...while Vegas kept trying to and somewhat succeeding in stealing Lexi's. Lots of ice cream splatters, dog spit, cursing, and juggling things, while laughter reigned. Now we know Vegas is the ice cream piggy.... 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rogue Canine Agility Day 1

This weekend we're in very sunny (and hot) Central Point, Oregon, not far from the northern California border. This is the farthest south I've ever come for an agility trial and only the second time I've ever driven this far south. So far so good though and I'm planning on coming back down the last weekend in October for another trial. Okay, in an effort to be efficient and actually do this now and try to keep myself on track and focus to maintain my blog better, I'd best get to the events of the day.

We drove in last night having left home about 5 pm and arriving in Medford (2 miles south of the trial location) at 9. Of course after getting all set up in our room it was bed time. Then the dogs chose to wake me at 5:30. They were pottied, fed, and back in bed by 5:40 and I tried to go back to sleep for a few. Off to the trial site with a quick stop for coffee conveniently across the street from the hotel (Yay!).

We arrived at the Jackson County Fair Complex about 6:40 and the doors weren't unlocked. I was one of the first people to arrive other than campers and would you believe I got the very last open space left to crate? Crazy! Although it was quite cool this morning (low 50s), the day was calling for 100 degrees. I was grateful for the cool though first thing...I got too warm as it was hauling things in from the truck and setting up.
Our lovely little setup, complete with blurry, moving Great Dane. :-)

The bathroom was conveniently right behind this wall (in case the "women" and "men" labels weren't clear enough) as was the exit door to the parking lot. Despite all my stress at finding a place to crate for Rachel and I, I am pleased enough with our setup and location.

The hosting club, Rogue Canine Agility, was kindly running Excellent classes in both rings first, followed by Open then Novice. This meant we had hopes for getting our runs in early and beating the heat! We also are running Tall to Small today and Monday and Small to Tall tomorrow. Hooray for getting out early on the go-home day. Our judges were Robyn Veenema and Kera Holm. I've shown under Robyn once before in December but never under Kera. The entry was also quite small for each day with total runs just slightly more than half of what is allowed with a two judge AKC trial. Seemed crazy low for around here but it is hot. I will say it's kind of nice that most of the people who we usually run with are up at Argus Ranch this weekend. Meeting different people is pretty fun and seeing other dogs run. Many people from California at this trial.

Today they were not running Fast but ran Time2Beat at the end of the day plus a B Match. Tomorrow is Fast and Monday is more of today without the match. We were entered only in Standard and JWW; Standard was first.
Course yardage was 183; SCT 68. The course was challenging but fair and flowing. The most difficult part was the weave entrance (avoiding the off course but not causing a refusal or losing attention) and the turn back to the chute (awkward). Of course the only problem I had was the weave entrance. I was so focused on queuing Vegas and know I called it good and early but I was moving toward the weaves and looked toward them for the briefest moment and lost her to the back side of the panel resulting in an off course. Bummer! I got disheartened and know I wasn't as quick to call her back and get on track but once I did the rest was beautiful. We finished in 60 plus seconds. No Q, but it was my fault and our error was minor so I'm cool with it.

We had about 30 minutes before JWW. They did stagger our starts a bit to avoid conflict as much as possible which worked well. That allowed me to take both dogs out to do their business, make sure Vegas got treated, water, and a bit of walk and love time. Then we walked JWW and ran very soon thereafter.
What's not to love? This course was pretty awesome. Of course having just one tunnel and a super short one at that didn't hurt! I planned a front cross after #2, "flips" at 7 to 8 and 11 to 12, a front cross again after the weaves, and then a line drive home. Although I was ahead of Vegas at 7 and 8, and I almost lost her to the tunnel as we moved toward 12, we did have a smooth, clean run. We were the 7th qualifier out of 7 qualifiers, and earned 5 more MACH points and our second leg toward MXJ3. Whoohoo. For our first AKC trial in two months, I'm happy to Q on our first day back in a brand new location.

We stuck around for the Open and Novice Standard classes. The dogs chilled and I worked, taking them out for a short break in between classes. After all, our runs were done by 9:40 and it's kind of boring to spend an entire day in a hotel room. We left about 2 and have been at the hotel since. The dogs have rested, pottied, and greeted their friends, Harry Potter and Lexi, and are sleeping again for the night now. In between I snapped a couple of pictures....

And with that I'm going to call it a night. We have Fast, Standard, and JWW tomorrow and in order to get an ideal parking spot and not feel rushed, we'll be up and out of the hotel early again.

Cover Model!

Vegas and Leo are both featured in the cover article, Was your pet born to be a star? Download or pick up your copy today!

I have to apologize for neglecting my blog lately and for the rash of catch-up posts to come. I'm going to try hard to work in several of those this weekend while we're away at an agility trial. Hope everyone has a safe and fun Labor Day weekend!