Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 3 MCDF

Wow what a weekend! Today was our last day and we even got to sleep in a bit. My plan was to be up at 7 and out the door at 8 for a 9 o'clock arrival. Of course the dogs had other ideas and needed up, pottied, and fed at 5:30. But then we went back to bed. We were running small to tall which is what gave us the slight luxury today - although I knew Leo's class wouldn't be too late and I didn't want to miss that.

There was definitely much to do about something in regard to this course. It wasn't bad; it just wasn't good. The course was somewhat zig-zaggy and had a lot of hard pulls on the dog to avoid off courses. Of course I still had to worry about the a-frame contact.

My handling plan was as follows:

  • Begin from the left
  • Remain on the left and "flip" her after the tire
  • Rear cross #5
  • Run out the length of the chute
  • Lead out toward #10 from the table
  • Rear cross the teeter
  • Hold back and handle the weaves from the off side
  • Front cross after the weaves
  • Front cross and pull her over #16

SCT for this course was 62 seconds for 166 yards. Our time - 50.82. 11th place and 11 MACH points. I couldn't have been more pleased with Vegas. She handled that course like a pro. Some of the things that cropped up this weekend were such a blessing in disguise and I'm fortunate we already worked through them while still qualifying, too.

Interestingly enough, later as we were walking around, we went down the stairs to the arena floor and she stopped before leaving the stairs. I looked back at her and for the briefest of moments was going, "What?!" And then it dawned on me. That brilliant girl...she really took our a-frame lesson Friday night to heart along with our drill before each Standard course. We were using the stairs to "practice" our contact behavior. She was told "touch" each time we went down the stairs and had to hold the position until I released her. She picked up on that just wandering around and applied that lesson back to me. Smart, smart girl.

Without a lead-out possible, my plan was to run on the left and front cross after 3. I planned a "threadle arm" maneuver after 5 to pull her into me for the correct end of the tunnel. My goal was then to move outward of #7 and call her over the double as she came out of the tunnel. I walked the weave exit several times and wasn't comfortable with either. The first option was a front cross but then you had to be sure to step back/out because #11 was really not in line with the end of the weaves to move toward #12. Of course there was always the potential to off course to #20, too. The second option was to remain on the right and swing back to the #11 from the right side, then "flip" after 12 to 13 and rear cross. The concern there was pushing her to the #7 jump and that was the last thing I wanted to do. Or, if she ended up turning back to look for direction she might swing ahead to #16 and that was no good either. I went with the front cross.

From there I planned a  front cross after #15 and ran like hell to 20.
SCT was 45 for 160 yards. Our time was 37.92. 7 MACH points and double-Q number 16. Wow. Wow. We were 13th out of 15 Qs for the 24" dogs. 

What a weekend. What a ride. And what a dog. 
Our weekend: 2 QQs, 45 MACH points. 5/6 Qs. 

Current MACH journey totals: 16 QQs & 411 points. 

In addition to her usual treats at the trial today, Vegas got a McDonald's cheeseburger on the way home. She got turkey necks for dinner. And she got tons of love from her family. Her boys were proud of her and so am I. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MCDF Thanksgiving Trial

This weekend is our last agility trial before the AKC Invitational. Yikes. Three days to max our potential and work out any kinks. Vegas was entered in just Standard and JWW Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Our Friday started off very early - 5 am when the alarm went off and 6:03 when we pulled out of the driveway. Yikes. The location of the trial has very little space for crating so time was of the essence. The day's runs weren't to start until 10, crating was supposed to be allowed starting at 8:30, but those arriving to help unload and set equipment could stake their crate space at 7:30. We arrived right at 7 am. Yawn!

After a brief doze in the truck, 7:30 had arrived and I left the dogs to head inside and see what needed to be done. I laid out our crate mat and went to work. First up each day has been Standard followed by JWW.

This was a new judge for us but I was pleased enough with the course. My plan was to handle from the right as I felt trying to rear at #3 would potentially cause her to take the off course #18. That worked well and she hit the a-frame fast. Unfortunately what I'd been attributing to an occasional "oops, stride over" on the contact has become a pattern and a bad habit. It was this run in particular that I realized how much of a problem it is and oh how I wish I'd worked her harder on it sooner. So in walking the course I had told myself, "Work the contact!" Imagine my dumbfoundedness when she blew straight over the contact without a modicum of touching the yellow. Must have thought it would burn her feet. So as I stood there she then also took the #12 tunnel. Whoops! Then we were back on track. I got her back and went into the 180 and weave. Thank you, God, she's so solid on her weaves these days. She nailed that and moved onto the walk. Here was a dilemma - front cross to get the correct side of the tunnel or threadle arm and move sideways? I opted for the lateral move and it worked well. The #12 tunnel was quite intuitive for most dogs so I didn't worry too much. She did, however, scare me when she hit the table. She landed on the lower side so abruptly and with such power that, while she didn't tip it, she did spend the entire five-count straining her muscles to hold her body aloft and not come off forward.

After last weekend's chute issues, I knew I wanted to run the chute out with her. I had then planned a front cross after the panel jump into the #17 and 18. By running out the length of the chute though, I was behind in her quest to dive over the panel. She landed long and I had to make a last second decision to handle from behind. It worked well to serpentine 16-18 and she ran hard and fast for the #19 jump. So all in all a good run, a lesson learned, and something to work on.

Obviously JWW has been our game historically and I wanted to make a comeback. I was disappointed there were two tunnels, though. My plan was to run the outside of the tunnel and call her to #3 verbally. From there I would run up the inside, slowing at #5 and dropping her into me at 6 and then pushing out to #7. Rear cross at 11 and a hard push into the tunnel with a front cross for the weaves. I hoped for a front cross at #18 to make the final sequence, a pinwheel, and "go for gold."
SCT of 45 for 161 yards. Our time? 36.75 with a YPS of 4.381. 8 MACH points and 11th place out of 17 qualifiers. Not too damn shabby for the largest and tallest dog of the class. So proud of my girl!

That put her MACH point count at 374 - the halfway point. 

Because of our earlier debacle with the a-frame and my realization, we stuck around really late last night for a B match. I entered both Vegas and Leo to run the standard course and I knew that I would use the time to work the a-frame. And work it I did. I didn't count but my guess is that Vegas climbed the a-frame about 20 times. Yep, 20 times. Jump/a-frame/jump/a-frame, rinse, repeat. She nailed the contact each and every time. Go figure. 

We didn't have to arrive quite so early this morning but tall dogs were running first. We got to the trial site about 7:45 and had a little more than an hour before the Standard class started.
I really liked this course. My biggest concerns were really the tunnel/dog walk discrimination (although they were set a decent distance apart and I knew exactly how I would handle it to avoid an issue) and the a-frame. Did I mention I had anxiety over the a-frame? I set Vegas up for a start-line stay and, would you believe, I got one? Wowza. Gave up on that two years ago but never stopped trying. Good girlie! From there I was going to front cross after the weaves and pull her around the 270 and make sure my shoulders were square to the tunnel. From there I planned to rear cross the tunnel and I knew after talking with Craig about another area of the course not to push too hard on 6-7. I didn't want to push her too far and potentially get an off course tire or anything. As soon as she committed to the tunnel I was pulling back to the dog walk and calling the command. I also wanted to control her landing on the table this time so we didn't risk her knocking it over, rocking it, or continuing forward motion. That worked well. I also hoped to be able to lead out a bit while she was on the table because shaping the chute entry was important. My plan was to lead her straight over the jump, out, then drop with my left shoulder to push into the tunnel, again running out the length with her. Cha-ching! Success. Teeter to panel and then I debated a front cross after the panel to the a-frame or to front cross afterward. Both after watching Craig walk it and figuring it avoided me losing time or causing a dropped bar on the panel with any late movement, I worked from the inside and fronted afterward. The area he had pointed out of issue was 17 to 19. He said it was natural to move in on that section but doing so could easily cause of off course from 16 to the triple, #7. It definitely happened to a few dogs so I held my position and moved in a straight line toward #20 closer to the a-frame than the tire.
SCT was 66 for 176 yards; our time was 54.03. 11 MACH points and a clean run complete with Great Dane feet having connected with the yellow a-frame contact. Whoohoo! Very, very pleased with that run. Could have been faster, sure, but it was clean because I played it safe and I worked the areas I was concerned with.

JWW was another lovely course. The most concerning part to people walking it was the off course jump by the weaves. In reality, it didn't catch anyone unless they had issues they had to correct with the short sequence before.
My plan was to work from the inside all the way to the tunnel. Setting her up at a nice diagonal start line, she could see clear to the #2 jump. From there I was just going to move outward to pull her over 3 and send to 4 and 5. I hoped that while she was in the tunnel I could move out at least to the other side of 6 if not more toward 7. I debated and walked the 7/8/9 section. I was comfortable with both a front cross after #8 and also rearing the entire thing and working the weaves from the back wall (off side). In the end, I was able to get out to #7 while she was in the tunnel and draw her over those jumps for a smooth front cross before 8. From there I hoped to rear cross 12 with a send out to 13, draw her back over 14 and front cross at 15. I actually managed to pull off a front at 16 because she was moving so well laterally and away from me. This was a run of a lifetime. There was not time for extra thought and we were really syncing. I watched the video and her timing was amazing, her ability to respond to my queues just gorgeous. We nailed this course with an incredible time, I think, for the SCT set. I had actually gone into it worried we could do it in time. The SCT was just 40 seconds. Vegas ran it in 31.83.
This run also represented a landmark - QQ #15. Three-quarters of the required QQs for MACH. Wow. And, we are now at 393 MACH points. 19 points for the day and 27 points for the weekend with one day to go. So, so, so proud of my girl. She still amazes me. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher Club AKC Agility Weekend

This past weekend we were at the Clark County Fairgrounds for one of my favorite clubs' trials. Perhaps they're one of my favorites because Dobies are one of my favorite breeds, but also because the club members are always really cool and I've not experienced any negativity in working for them. Anyway, I never miss their trials. Judges for the weekend were two new ones for us: Nancy Davis and Beverly Morgan Lewis. Great courses that were challenging but flowed well and were fair and open enough for big dogs to maneuver. Yay for that alone! Oh, and Sunday there was no tunnel in JWW. So without further ado, here's the rundown.

This was our very last Fast class entry. It was a carry over from my trying to finish our XF title and having entered this trial a while back. I did go ahead and move us up from Excellent A to B "just in case." While walking the course I did have more than one thought and even voiced it out loud - how much effort at succeeding on this course did I want to put forth? After all, if we qualified I knew I'd feel "obligated" to complete the title. Unfortunately there are 10 legs required for the Excellent B Fast title. Yikes! For a class that doesn't earn the team MACH points and just equates to more money out? That said, we did have fun and I was thrilled with Vegas' performance.

So the send bonus was the jump #4, into the left side of the tunnel, and back over the same jump going the opposite direction as the first time. From there I was going to perform the course as you see. In walking it I did consider throwing in an extra jump or two if not the entire pinwheel before the a-frame. In reality that's what we did and it worked well.
As you can see in the video, lots of momentum and speed. I just didn't queue the proper end of the tunnel and in the end I was just laughing with Vegas about how she did. It was all for the best. No Q but a fast, fun performance anyway.

This looked like a fantastic course. The only hitch in our step was the tunnel. The map does not show it at all as it was. The tunnel was the longest one used in agility and it was bent almost in half. The curve did "curve;" that is, it wasn't a point, but it was a sharp bend with the majority of the tunnel lengths running straight on either side. A friend of ours who was course building did her best to set it to give Vegas maximum movement room in there. At least it was a fast, straight shot into the tunnel. I started Vegas out on my right and well back from the first jump to give us maximum speed. She shot into the tunnel but wow, it seemed a long time before she came out. Poor girl. The goal was then to be up by the #4 jump and lead her over it and straight to the triple by using my shoulder positioning to avoid any confusion in taking #1 or #2. Still handling from the inside my goal was to front cross after the teeter. From there I knew I needed to balance my direction over the panel jump with not pushing her too far but not pulling back and causing her to drop the bar. One of my ongoing concerns is the a-frame. She just keeps on making me fret over missing that contact. Not from a true launch, but from a long-legged stride she just can't help. She nailed it though and stuck the table. I planned a front cross into the pinwheel with a rear at the chute. I almost blew that one as she barely made it into the chute. As Craig said in retrospect, I should have front crossed there. Now I know. :)
She qualified in this run for 14 points. It was a beautiful, fluid run and I'm very pleased with how it went. That run completed her MX2!

Having worked some of the earlier classes, the off side of the tunnel had been very appealing but seemed to be less so for excellent. I believe the left (off) side of the tunnel was set back a little farther and less conspicuous. So 1-4 were fairly straight forward. I planned on handling from the right and using a bit of a side-step and slight shoulder pull to ensure the correct tunnel entry. From there I wanted to beat feet to be on the other side of the #5 jump and queuing the weaves upon her tunnel exit. I was hoping for a front cross at #9 and kicked around the idea of handling #13-15 as a serpentine were she fast enough. As the course ran, all went well except the serpentine didn't happen. Instead I front-crossed at #13 and reared #15. Having watched our new friend and her Leonberger, Biko, run beautifully and accelerate hard on that last line, I didn't foresee what I did as causing what happened. We almost lost the Q. I was focused on driving into the tunnel and as soon as I assumed it was all clear and Vegas was committed, I focused on the final jump. It caused me to almost pull her off the tunnel enough for a refusal. Fortunately she didn't cross the plane and was always facing toward the tunnel.
43.22 seconds; SCT of 46.

We ended our day with 16 MACH points and our 14th QQ. Not too shabby!

Fortunately we were running tall to small Sunday and there were no extra classes. The day seemed like it should go much more quickly.
This was another lovely, lovely course I was so looking forward to running. Everything was smooth and flowing and logical. It looked to be a blast. My plan was to drive down the first line (1-3) and decelerate at the #3 jump to move into a 180 for #4. A front cross didn't seem practical since the line to the #5 jump was not straight nor was the chute. I opted to stay on the inside and planned a rear cross when she went into the chute and to pick her up at the dog walk. I knew from the dog walk queuing the weaves quickly and keeping her head focused was key with the big, empty, inviting corner over there. Then I was going to either drop my shoulder low and pull her out to the correct end of the tunnel or front cross with a front cross again to the a-frame. From there it was a matter of working the inside curve all the way to #17 where I hoped to get a front cross in before #18 and pulling her into the final jump.

Sadly it was not to be. I messed up and Vegas also clearly didn't want to do the chute and was looking for an excuse not to. She seemed committed and my rear cross was "late" and she backed out instead of sticking it. I thanked the judge and pulled her from the course.

At this point I'll interject why I feel so poorly now. I was pretty upset and still felt once committed and at Vegas' skill level, her backing out was uncalled for. That said, check out the photo from Nina Sage of Saturday's chute performance. I think she either got spooked or just didn't like what happened in there. It certainly didn't look comfortable.

Before I knew what happened and actually for about the next hour, I really considered scratching JWW and going home. I don't know why I went from zero to 90 so quickly in frustration. My girl is solid. I guess my hopes and goals get bigger than life sometimes. I just didn't get it. It felt like she was really committed and even a late rear shouldn't have negated that. Talking with my friend, Beth, she said I should run her in the JWW course. She said not to let the day end that way and she called the JWW course "makeup sex." I have to laugh at that. I've never heard anything agility related called that before but, hey, first time for everything. And she was right. Dont' walk away negative. And don't walk away from Vegas' favorite kind of course and one without a tunnel! So we stayed and I'm glad we did.

Started out on the left and planned a rear cross at #4 to the 5 jump, a rear at #9, a front after the weaves, a rear at #16, and a run for home. All worked well and Vegas rocked it. 31.94 seconds on a 44 second JWW course. Couldn't have been prouder. 12 points in JWW and a great end to the weekend.
MACH quest status - 14 QQs, 366 points. The coolest, most amazing thing? We have earned all 14 QQs in 2011 and she has earned more than 300 points this year as well. We have three trial days left plus the invitational. Six more runs. It's hard to believe and amazing at the same time. If we even come near the same pace in 2012, Vegas could have her MACH by this time. Wow. She still rocks my world.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sno King AKC Trial 11-13-11

Once again, better late than never...a quick Sunday agility recap for last weekend.

Tall to Small, Vegas was running Standard and JWW. First up was Standard.
This looked like a fun course to run. I debated on handling left or right initially but it made more sense to stay back to the right and rear cross while she was in the tunnel and move out ahead of the tire. A lot of people struggled even with the same move as their dog came straight out of the tunnel instead of looking toward them. In retrospect it was probably a late verbal call. In our instance, it worked fine although I had to move quick to be out of the way for the teeter. From there I was working on the inside through the chute to the triple and back to the tunnel. I stayed on the inside with the dog walk knowing I'd beat her to the end because I wanted to front cross. That worked well and we were really moving. She nailed her weaves and I just moved out ahead and led her to the table with a dropped left shoulder and rear crossed to move around in front of the table. From there I worked on the outside of the a-frame. I had walked several ways but the line wasn't super clean on the back stretch and I didn't want to misqueue her on the jumps. So being on the outside of the a-frame my plan was to rear cross the #16 jump. Unfortunately my brain wasn't engaged or our timing was off because I did so and pulled her off #17 then caused a back jump - R & W and NQ. Bummer! We finished the course in 53.72 seconds; SCT was 66 so would have been another really nice run.

Not too far off was JWW. Here is the course map: 
The first issue here was that #1 was very close to the stall/wall at the front of the ring. There wasn't a lot of room to get started. Second, this line was so misleading to the dogs! Most of us had a little trouble in setting it up and both getting into position for jumps a couple down the way as well as properly queuing the first couple. I put Vegas on my left and as far back as possible. I figured without a lead out the best I could do was to run with her and pull hard to the right to get #2. Unfortunately that put me back a bit for #3 and while she nailed it, I could have gotten close to a refusal on #4 as I was playing catch up. All in all it worked out, though and I was able to queue her out to #4 and get back into the position necessary. I front-crossed after #6 to be in the best position for after the weaves and not to accidentally send her into the tunnel. After the weaves the plan was to pull to the #9 and "flip" back into the 180 to the tunnel. I'd meet her on the inside of the #11 and my next concern was remembering to push out hard and far enough for #15. Then we ran like the dickens for "home."
155 yards, SCT of 44; our time - 32.88. 11 MACH points and 12th place. :) A great way to end the weekend. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sno King AKC 11-12-11

Wow, today started early. I somehow woke up at 2:36 am, about half an hour before my alarm. The dogs and I were on the road before o' dark hundred (3:45 am) to head to Argus Ranch for the Sno King AKC agility trial. We made really good time, about a half hour shorter than previous trips. Many thanks to photographer, Nina Sage, for saving us crating space. That saved me a ton of stress and strain. One of my least favorite places at this venue is the precious little crating space for the number of dogs entered. I got unloaded, set up, and then took the dogs out to one of the fenced  fields for the dogs to have some off leash stretch and potty time. After a short while, Nina brought her Papillon, Heidi over to play. She and Juicy romped a bit. It was pretty cold, the grass iced over, and soon it was time for me to take mine in and see where things were at.

I picked up maps and proceeded to wait. I could have sworn first dog was to be on the line at 8:30 but they waited until 9. Standard was up first followed by JWW. There was no Fast running this weekend. They ran our favorite schedule with Excellent classes followed by Open then JWW. Leo wasn't entered today and it meant we got our runs out of the way relatively early. The one down side is that we couldn't check into our hotel until 3.

24/26 ran first in Standard and in JWW they ran 16, 12, 4/8, 24/26, 20 which meant we had some time between runs. Good and bad. I didn't have to stress over both courses at once, but it was cold enough (30s) that I wanted to be sure to get Vegas good and warmed up as well as stretched out.

Our judges were Lisa Potts, who we had run under before, and Carol Smorch, who we had not. No video this weekend as my normal "posse" aren't up here with us. :)

So most of this course looked like fun except I really struggled with which way to handle 1-4. My gut was telling me to handle it from the inside (left) because I knew I had a good "flip" maneuver to turn and send Vegas into the chute. The line was terrible and the off course jump in front of the tire was much closer than it appears on the map. Plus crossing from the right seemed like I would be way in the wrong position. Truth be told, none of the options for that section were good. In the end, I worked from the right and made sure I called the tire early. A mantra I need to keep repeating until it needs no thought to provoke it: Vegas is a rockstar. She goes out there and gets the job done. She knew what to do and did it with gusto. I rear-crossed the chute and she somehow just knew what direction she'd be going. She nailed the dog walk and moved across it. I decelled at the contact, waited for her then called weaves. She took off like such a shot I was almost certain we would have to restart our weaves. Again, Vegas is a rockstar. She likes the weaves now so hits em' hard. From there to the triple I needed to make sure she had good momentum, I didn't accelerate too hard or far into the jump, but not pull off early and cause her to drop a bar. The objective was to not hit the off course either #18 or #17. Again, she handled it like a pro. I'd like to have had a rear cross at the teeter but that didn't happen, although in hindsight I probably could have as she drove straight into the tunnel. A blind cross from the tunnel to the a-frame while I made sure to watch her tunnel exit so as to avoid her taking the off course jump. Nailed our contact to the table. She hit the table so hard as I came around it almost seemed her momentum caused her to struggle to stay on, but stay on she did. While I know I called hard on the 16-17 as I think I moved in a bit far, it's kind of a blur. This was a mind-blowing, fast, fun run. As I sit here and describe the course, I know it wasn't perfectly fluid or in sync, but it felt like it was at the time. Vegas was hauling ass and having a ball and I was just steering as we went. I couldn't believe our time - 48.02. To get a standard course time that low seemed unreal for my big girl but that's what the final score showed. SCT 63, yardage 168. Fourteen MACH points. Whoohoo!


I worked the 12" class so got to see how this class ran first hand. I think it's probably good I watched it so many times as I really feared getting lost. The weave pole entry was what everyone struggled with. They either stayed on the inside for the 6-9 stretch and pulled toward the #2 jump to shape the entry (most people) or they front crossed between 8 and 9 and pushed in to the weaves. Either way that was difficult and fewer dogs got it than you would expect for an Excellent class. The other issue although a bit less so was the #14 jump. They either went wide around it or took it instead of #13, the former being more common. It was a tough course. I'm proud to say Vegas nailed everything I told her to do. Her weave entry was gorgeous. Her speed was wonderful. I made the mistake and I knew it right away. In handling the 13-14, I pulled out too far and drew her around the #14 jump. Had I rear crossed 13 but stayed in front of 14 or even moved back toward 15, we would have been fine. As it was, when I tried to correct the "refusal" on #14, I accidentally pushed her over it the wrong way. So an off course and a refusal. Oh well. She was still awesome and I know it was my fault. And, I knew it right away and told her it was my fault on course. Her time was 43.07; SCT was 41 on 146 yards.

And that's today. We worked half the 20" JWW class as timer in order to kill time before checking into our hotel. After getting unloaded and settled we napped from 4-6 or so, then I fed Vegas and we went out to potty and grab me a bite to eat. She's now sawing logs on the bed, happy as a clam.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rogue Canine Agility October 2011

Last weekend we headed for Central Point, Oregon and the Rogue Canine Agility club's AKC agility trial. Rachel and I had attended a trial here once before recently and really enjoyed it. This weekend was no exception. The judges were Lori Sage and Debby Wheeler - both whom we have enjoyed trialing under previously. Plus they were doing a Halloween costume contest after classes were finished Saturday. That provided to be more fun - and creative - than I could have imagined.

We ran small to tall Saturday and tall to small Sunday. Although the trial was fuller this weekend than the previous, the club handled things efficiently and runs went quickly. Vegas was entered in Fast again as I have been trying to get us our final leg for the XF title.

Here's the course map:
Here's what I had planned out:
Originally I thought we would use the double again after the teeter just because it was in flow but in the end I knew Vegas could wrap tightly after the teeter and since we didn't get points for the jump a second time it was an unnecessary obstacle. My biggest goal with the send bonus was my personal momentum out beyond the second jump to pull her then the wrap and a push back out over the third jump. It turned out to be no problem. Why do I worry about these things? My girl is so awesome. While I knew the the dog walk was there as were the weaves, I didn't want to waste time when I knew that and the ability to accumulate the points is most of what has cost us in qualifying previously. So I opted for a push to the tunnel as a quick exit. Turns out it worked! Vegas was flying and finished the course with 65 points (60 were required) in 28.87 seconds. She was first place and that was our third leg and XF title. So pleased with Miss V - she's so darn reliable!

Next up was Standard.
In walking this course I was going to handle from thel eft side of the 1-4 sequence then make the turn to 5-7. From there I debated on a front cross once she was committed to #8 to wrap and pull her back to the dog walk or to handle from the left again. In the end positioning for both of us allowed me to make the cross. From there to the table, I changed sides and handled from the left again through 14. Then I knew I had to avoid the off course jumps and pull her back to me. There was a slight possibility of an off course again after 16 to the chute but by pulling back and keeping closer to the dog walk Vegas easily understood the chute was the next obstacle. From there I felt confident in my ability to front cross in front of the weaves and that worked beautifully. I had set the chute for the entire 20" class and saw how that handled at the end. I didn't like the cross from the left side of the weaves and knew I had time to do the other which made the pull back to the tire for the final obstacle easy.

Of course all is well in theory, but I screwed up big time. Again. And unfortuntely I didn't catch it myself on course. I thought I had queued Vegas correctly. The area of the course I'm talking about is 4-5. I still don't feel that a deceleration queue was completely necessary at that point as I definitely turned my shoulders. But perhaps I was late doing that and I know I certainly could have moved toward #5 when I called her back to me versus just standing there so know that part is my fault. Regardless, my error made for an off course, particularly devastating as Vegas' time was 55.03 with an SCT of 70. I'm guessing that had I not screwed up we would have been at 17-18 seconds under course time which would have been amazing! But hindsight. What I learned from this was to check my brain into the game for each run the remainder of the weekeend and not just make a plan and barrel through it. I need to more actively think on my feet since I expect Vegas to and I'm the one that has a map and can read numbers. I'm her GPS after all!

The last run was JWW then the costume contest. My walk plan here was a front cross between 4 and 5, a rear cross at 10, and then to run it all out. I ended up with a front cross after 16, too, but other than that, the course ran well. I was particularly excited there were no tunnels to slow us down plus we had two long straight lines of jumps to pick up speed on the finish. Right up our alley.

Our time was 36.05; SCT was 42 for 148 yards. Five MACH points and a really fun run!

Vegas hung out in her crate during the costume contest since I had my hands full with the little ones plus taking pictures of the rest of the participants. I'll add pictures later...but suffice it to say people were very creative. There was Charlotte and Wilbur, an Oregon Duck's fan, Little Bo Peep and her sheep, sheep herders, a Mariachi band, and so much more. Good times and laughs were had for all. Then we headed back to the hotel, picking up dinner along the way, pottied and fed the dogs, and settled in for an evening of R&R. Vegas slept really hard after dinner so I know she needed it. She works herself up too much when crated and I know that anxiety contributes to her tireness.

Sunday we packed up and headed to the trial site after checking out of the hotel. There were no Fast classes offered Saturday and we were running tall to small so things boded well for getting out of their at a decent time.

Again, Standard was up first and JWW followed shortly thereafter. 
One of the biggest concerns with this course was the chute to #3 - avoiding the off course jump since the dogs would be coming out of the chute blind. Of course I almost forgot to pack my brain on this run and was slightly slow. I also remember seeing Vegas look at the teeter after she crossed #3 wondering if she was supposed to take it. But we made it through that section smoothly and onto the teeter and tunnel - to which she shot at like a bat out of hell! Over the a-frame, nice contact, and an absolutely beautiful, tight turn into the weaves. Rachel commented on it several times but wow, to see the video. Spectacular move for my big girl.

The next area was just the maneuver to the #12 jump... to do a front cross after the weaves or not. I opted to do it and she again had a nice tight turn to the table. Here's where I admit we got a gift on Sunday. But, my disclaimer is this: obstacle performance was not unsafe for the breed of dog running and none of it was intentional. Her natural stride based upon foot placement on the dog walk caused her to stride right across the contact but it wasn't called. Super lucky! Although I'm not going to count on luck and will work that one more again from now on just in case. Then we ran home free. Her time: 53.60; SCT: 66; yards: 166. Twelve points and a really fun, really nice run.
Last run of the weekend - JWW. 
This course looked fun, too. The parts I considered in handling options were the weave entrance, after the weaves, and how to manuever the tunnel area to avoid both the off course jump (#16 out of order) and the wrong end of the tunnel. Turns out it wasn't that big of deal. By pulling out and decelerating at #14 the dogs naturally worked toward the handler so then the correct end of the tunnel became the obvious choice. For 18-19 I "flipped" her out toward the wall to come back versus risking me being in the wrong place and causing an off course back jump.

SCT was 45; yardage 159. Our time: 36.13. So proud of my girl! Eight more MACH points.

Our totals for the weekend - 3 Qs, 1 QQ, and 25 MACH points.

Current MACH countdown: 13 QQs & 312 points.