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.

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