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...)


  1. How exciting! Yay for the non-typical working breeds! Congrats on the double Qs and the MACH points! What a great day! :)