Sunday, January 29, 2012

Invitational Photos

We got our photos from the invitational! They arrived last week. I am so excited to have them and now need to figure out what I'm going to do....what ones to print, whether to make a collage, etc. But for starters, I'll share them. All photos were taken by Great Dane Photos (ironic, huh?). I am so very appreciative to their excellent photography and the fact that they sell all your photos in full resolution and send them to you on CD with permissions to reproduce. I love it.

Clearly we were having a "discussion" about touching the yellow contact. LOL

My favorite. :-) Look how regally she sat for this photo. 

Rose City Classic 2012 - Saturday & Sunday

Well, a week has gone by and I haven't gotten Saturday and Sunday summed up, so here goes.

Saturday is the busiest day at the show with the highest numbers in attendance. It's also the only day that agility completely filled and even turned people away. That meant there were 660 runs between all levels and all classes. They were running Time 2 Beat and ISC Standard. It's also the day the big dogs were running the latest in the run order. Although that meant I didn't have to show up early, I knew if I didn't parking would be horrendous and I couldn't afford to have to park and ride the shuttle in - even if they would have let me with three dogs. So we arrived about 10 after 8. And still had to park in the outer regions of the parking lot and not right near the covered area!

In addition to running Vegas in Standard and JWW, I also had volunteered to bring her over to the Meet the Breed booth around noon. It turned out the time we would be running Standard would be conflicting with trying to be at Meet the Breed so I asked if we could be bumped up to the first of the class. We walked with the 24-26 inch group then got ready to run.

First off - check out that jump mid-course! Talk about getting used! My plan here was to work from the right and hopefully get out in front of 2 (the triple) to front cross. My concern if I were to just work it from the inside was pulling her to the off course jump before #4. There was plenty of room after the triple without any off course obstacles to draw her to that I felt safe in doing so. This would also give me the advantage of being in position to work the dog walk. From there I just needed to ensure she hit her dog walk contact, send her into the tunnel, then get into position to make sure she hit her a-frame contact. From there I could work the inside to the table, then change sides, almost like a front cross. I wanted to be sure not to cause her to knock the panel and fortunately the weave entry was nice and straight. I planned a little RFP to draw Vegas' motion toward me out of the weaves then, when I had her attention, send her into the tunnel. From there I just needed to back off to call her from the tunnel exit, direct her over 16 and toward the teeter. I often front-cross after the teeter which was the plan here. That way I would be able to more smoothly sned her over 18 and 19. 
Course yardage was 182; SCT of 68. Our time was 49.85, another really fast run. Darn the triple we took down as everything else went off like clockwork. 

We headed straight over to Meet the Breed which was running til about 1 o'clock (for Danes). There was a fairly good number of us there, which was good, but I don't know that people really knew about it as we pretty much just got a handful of passersby stopping to pet our dogs and ask questions. Then there was one or two people who'd had Danes before so were inclined to stop by and visit, tell their stories, and move on. Several club members were inquiring into when we would run and decided to stick around and watch. I can't say how good that felt. I'm so glad to have the support of club members and to be making friends with some of them. I don't oppose what they do (conformation) and it's good they don't oppose what I do (performance). Hopefully one day we'll see more cross-over; in fact, that's my plan with the next one. In the meantime, if we can learn from each other and respect what each does, that's good enough. 

So we headed over to see where things were at. They were just setting bars to 24" and getting ready to have us walk so it was perfect timing. 

So the first decision to make on this course was whether to work from the right or the left. There were pros and cons to either. For instance working from the left you were in a better position to direct the dog to #4. The con? If the dog got ahead of you enough s/he might pull in off 2 and make a beeline for 5 or just generally be more difficult to direct to #3. Either way, depending on what angle you set your dog up it appeared a straight line from 1 to 3. I hoped to work in a blind cross between 5 and 6, send her over 7 and rear cross to 8, a blind cross between 10 and 11 (or 11 and 12), and then I knew I'd have to be careful not to push in too far on 12 or risk an off course at 2. Here came a tricky part. With Vegas knocking bars periodically lately I really hated to send her over the triple and tell her to turn left. I was hoping to be on the left side at 14 so the transition was smoother. Once she was in the tunnel my goal would be to front cross to send her into the correct end of #18 with my right arm, then just turn around and call her out of the tunnel with a send to 19 and 20. 
SCT: 45
Yards: 160
Our time was 37.64. We were 13th out of 18 qualifying runs in the 24" class. 7 points, a few blind crosses used again, and a lot of fun.

We did some wandering after that, took the little dogs out to potty, watched a bit of obedience, made our way through most of the vendors, and eventually wandered back by the agility rings to watch some of the Time 2 Beat class. We chatted with photographer, Nina Sage, for a bit and one of the judges Tim Pinneri, came to chat with me for a moment. He said he'd looked for me after JWW. He reminded me he'd judged at Rose City two years previous and just wanted to tell me how far Vegas and I have come and what a joy it was to watch her. That was seriously an awesome moment, that he remembered us but also sought us out to make sure I knew. So cool.

After that we didn't stick around too much longer. I was tired after four days, the weather was still nasty, and it was difficult to juggle three dogs in that kind of melee.

Sunday arrived too soon. I realized how difficult it actually is to put in those kind of hours at the dog show, plus drive time, plus juggling three dogs, times five days. I was beat. There was nothing I would have liked more than to leave the little ones at home but since the boys were at their dad's house and I had no idea how long the day would actually go, that just wasn't fair to them. So off we went, arriving a bit later Sunday due to my oversleeping, getting there about 10 after 9.

Our runs ended up being pretty close together the way things ran. There wasn't Fast on Sunday so that made a difference.

So right off the bat here, we had to avoid the weaves as an off course, avoid taking the triple (backwards) as an off course, not take the chute.... This was the tightest course of any we saw over the four days. It wasn't too difficult, and it wasn't too tight to safely maneuver a big dog. It was just challenging. My plan was to work the right side and rear cross the teeter. From there I would continue to work the inside. In watching other dogs run, it became apparent it was important not to push in too far on 5 because a lot of dogs too #12 as an off course. The next challenge was the weave pole entry with the sequence prior to. Where to cross? What kind of cross to use? Wait to rear cross at the weaves and work the inside? I knew I didn't want to attempt a cross between 9 and 10. There is just too much temptation in the a-frame. So then I thought perhaps I could make it happen between 10 and 11. I knew for certain I didn't want to rear cross the weaves. We don't practice it and I am not confident in that at all. Front crosses, lateral movement, and giving her any general distance is fine, but when I move behind her that means she's to come with me. It isn't worth messing up the good thing we've had with the weaves for more than a year now.... The rest was fairly straight forward. I did want to make sure I was in the correct position to send her to the correct end of the #17 tunnel which mean staying close to the tunnel exit (#15). Fortunately the panel was on the straight and the last obstacle; I didn't give it too much thought. 
Yards: 177
SCT: 66
Our time was 54.19 and we finished 7th out of 7 qualifiers. Vegas was clearly tired Sunday. Not for lack of sleep but just running on that surface for four days. It was a good indicator of what to do for next year which is to enter her in just two days (Saturday and Sunday). But regardless, a Q and a nice run on a course that obviously caught up a lot of the dog and handler teams. Very proud of my girlie.

Run #8 out of 8 runs in four days. Yay for one tunnel, first off. My goal here was clean. Maybe not the fastest, but clean. Why? I was feeling a teensy bit of pressure for this run. Being as we already had gotten our Standard Q for the day, that meant this had the potential to be a QQ run. And not just any QQ run but our 20th QQ. I tried to get the butterflies under control before going into the ring and certainly didn't want them affecting Vegas. But I wanted this Q for sure. I started out working from the right side; it just made the most sense. I hoped to get in a blind cross somewhere to switch sides and be better in position to send her into the tunnel. My goal was to accomplish that between 4 and 5 or 5 and 6. From the tunnel exit things were pretty smooth and my goal was to shape the turn from 10 to 11 so it wasn't so severe. I figured on working from the inside then "flipping" her over 13 to 14 with a rear cross. That gave her enough striding distance to easily clear the triple and then move out to 15. I planned a front cross after the weaves to give me a better line for 17-19 without having to deal with any fancy footwork or send outs to get her over 19 if I was (inevitably) behind.

We did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a pretty run for my girl. As you can tell my crosses were certainly not where I had hoped but they worked well enough. She was getting tired enough that I was definitely staying ahead in most instances, but that's why those blind crosses are working so well. I can trust her to take what I put in front of her and if I can fit a blind in that means I am far enough in front of her.
SCT: 43
Yards: 154
Our time was 36.86; YPS of just 4.18. But that represented our second double-Q of the weekend and our 20th double-Q of all time. So very proud of Vegas. She's five years young and still rockin' it. None of our errors were crazy stuff like off courses or visiting the spectators or over time. A knocked bar in two runs out of eight; all the rest were Qs.

So we ended that super long weekend at 20 QQs and 502 points. We are so close it's amazing and I so look forward to the journey over the next couple months with Vegas. She's such an incredible girl and I am so blessed to have her as my pet, my competition partner, my friend, and my heart.

So then, to wrap up the weekend before I packed it in, I did a little bit of shopping...
An ornament that I can hang...
A pin that I can wear - it's pewter.
An armband holder for when we do obedience and I have plans to make it work for our agility stickers, too.
And this is a set of chimes with a black Dane head on lavender glass.
And here is what I got for my Vegas girl. She loves new toys!

And that's that for Rose City 2012. I'm already looking forward to 2013 although I already know I'll only get to enter on the weekend. Honestly, that's totally okay with me. I'm still, a week later, trying to catch up on rest and feeling well after overdoing it at the show with so many hours put in, etc. But what a lot of fun to see everyone, watch the Danes in the ring, learn more about the judges, and accomplish some of our goals.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rose City Classic 2012 - Friday

Friday was my "short" day. I had to get the kids to their dad's that evening which meant getting out at a decent time. Fortunately the big dogs were running earlier in the day than the day before so we had a pretty good chance. And there was to be only one Dane show, too.

You might notice a theme to the pictures I took Friday.... (all but one anyway)
This is a friend's lovely bitch, Boca.
So like usual, Standard was up then JWW. One ring started with Excellent Fast followed by Standard; we were running 20s then 24/26 inch dogs.

This course seemed fairly straight forward. The challenges presented were avoiding the off course #14 tunnel coming out of the chute, avoiding the wrong end of the tunnel after #13, and avoiding an off course #19 after the #17 jump if the dog got ahead of you. My plan for handling was as follows:

  • Work from the inside from 1 - 5. 
  • I walked a rear cross as well as a front cross at the a-frame. I chose to stay on the inside. 
  • Rear cross the chute
  • Work the inside from the table through 11
  • Push in and shape the angle over 12 to 13 to better point her toward the far end of the tunnel
  • Move out in front of 15 and work from the right side for 15, 16, and 17
  • Planned to throw an off side arm up at 17 to avoid/discourage taking the panel versus the tunnel

Since we've had some panel issues as of late, I also wanted to be sure I was out in front of the tunnel exit and in her line of sight to turn her toward the panel and make sure she got her stride right to clear it. I even added an extra "big" command to make sure she knew to jump high and clear it.
SCT: 66
Yards: 176
Our time was 49.55. We finished 19th out of 21 qualifiers. It was a fast, fast class of dogs. Nice course for it. We earned 16 MACH points on that run; whoohoo! Very proud of my girly, but now the pressure was on. If we qualified in JWW that would be our 19th QQ. Of course I wanted it, but I didn't actually put any pressure. We have points to go for MACH so it would just be a step in the right direction. Of course I wanted it though....

One tunnel, so yay for that! It was a long one, though. I walked the course a couple ways. In the end, I decided to start by handling from the left. I figured to run with her and rear cross at 4 and toss in a blind cross after 6. At the end of the weaves I was going to front cross and make sure I pushed well into the tunnel versus sending and moving out. The dilemma at that point was how far to beat feet. Sometimes if I'm too far ahead of Vegas she tries so hard to catch up with me that bars can come down. In this instance, I decided to risk it and moved out beyond 12. From there it was just a matter of taking the pinwheel and a run for home. 
SCT: 42
Yards: 149
Our time was 35.87 with a YPS of 4.15. We placed 18 out of 20 qualifiers. And that was our 19th double-Q. What a high, what a day. Very proud of Vegas. She ran well, concentrated, focused, and was totally in tune with me. She's such a crowd pleaser; it's such a joy to listen to people when she's running and to talk with them before and after. A huge part of her time at Rose City is spent doing breed PR and she did a bang-up job of it - loving on kids of all ages, adults, seniors, and participating in umpteen requests for photos.

Rose City Classic 2012 - Thursday

Thursday I had Vegas entered in both regular classes - Standard and JWW - and her brother, Leo, in JWW only. While I had set up our crates to save a spot for us Wednesday, I still had reason to get there early enough to get things unloaded etc. Plus I wanted a cup of coffee on the drive and had an errand or two to run. So another early day.

When we got there it was pouring. Like, torrential downpour, nasty, cold, wet raining cats and dogs. It was miserable. And the spaces closest to the covered walkways at Expo were taken. So that meant unloading all our stuff onto our cart in the rain, walking across the parking lot to the covered walkway, then walking about a quarter mile from the back end of the parking lot to the building. Let's just say that by the time I got in the building I was already in a foul mood. I am really not a fan of the weather in Oregon anyway and this did nothing to improve that perception. So I walk in the door and basically drop my umbrella, shove my cart inside, then try to get myself and Vegas in, pick our crap up again, and then have to "show our sticker" to prove we're participants, etc. As if the crapload of stuff wasn't clue enough....

Anyway, the little dogs were in a hard plastic crate so at least they were contained until I got things unloaded and set up. I was fortunate enough to get a spot by the wall with the curtain behind us so there was a "hidden" space to put extra crap. One of the biggest issues at Rose City is how little space the competitors/participants have for the varied accoutrements that come with dog showing. My usual setup includes at least one 18 gallon Rubbermaid container that stores all blankets, crate covers, clips, and dog dishes I may need to use. The container is not only sturdy and a good fit for this type of stuff, in our wretched weather it also ensures those things remain nice and dry for the pups.
It didn't take too long to get things set up and then Vegas and I went to pick up maps. Our judges for the four days were David Hirsch and Tim Pinneiri. We totally scored on that front. Fabulous courses, good humor, and just generally great people. In fact, the courses were generally well designed for larger dogs, did not have tight manuevers that were difficult in general, plus things ran well for dogs who are unaccustomed to a rubber-matted surface. I probably mentioned this in last year's Rose City post but probably 90% of competitors here only compete on rubber-matting once a year unless they travel and it's here at Rose City. The rest of our facilities offer varied dirt flooring that may include rock, clay, and other substrate combinations. So major kudos to those two because we really had wonderful courses and could not have asked for better tempered judges for such a long weekend in a more chaotic environment.

The show was alternately hosted by the Tualatin Kennel Club and the Dog Fanciers Association of Oregon. Thursday was Tualatin Kennel Club. Our first run of the day was Standard judged by David Hirsch. Our run order was different each day for Excellent level dogs with 24/26 running as the second group Thursday.

Of course I only had one other run with one other dog but it looked to be a conflict. The trial secretaries are really great at this show in helping all of us deal with conflicts though what with obedience, conformation, rally, and agility going on. They extended our walk through for big dogs so that I could run Leo's course first then come walk and run Vegas'.

My plan here was to begin by giving her as much of a run into the tunnel as possible so we backed up almost to the score table. From there I was hoping to move out in front of the tire and call her through. From there it was important not to push in too far on #3 which could cause her to take the off course jump. I was hopeful that by hanging back, on the inside, she would smoothly make the turn from #3 to #4 in a 180 versus looking around. From there I assumed I could work in a rear cross at 7 with a verbal command to go to the table. Once she was on the table I just needed to turn back where I had come from to take the same jump we'd just left again and pull her back to the teeter from the inside. From there until the weaves I would be able to maintain position. Of course I had the a-frame in mind and making sure she nailed her contact. I wasn't concerned about the weaves and trying to front cross in there. I knew I would have time while she was in the weaves to front cross afterward to be in position to send her ot the tunnel after 14. The biggest issue with this course was making sure she nailed her contact on the dog walk and then not pulling in too soon, too tight so as to miss #17 or draw her back into the weaves. Fortunately she makes things pretty easy sometimes and her run off the end of the dog walk gave us just the right shaping we needed to head back up on the finish line of 17-20.
SCT - 71. Yards - 191. Our time: 51.54 - a smoking 3.71 YPS. 

So one thing I hadn't counted on but understand better now was the knocked panel (#3). I moved laterally and she looked to me - which was good! However, it caused Vegas to drop her rear which, in turn, dropped the top bar. So major bummer cause my girl was seriously moving on this course. She ended 19 seconds under course time - a major accomplishment for such a big girl. So I was not upset; she did what she could and I now know to watch for lateral movement with a panel and be more careful, plus work this when we do practice. She's so efficient in her jumping these days she just doesn't have the room to spare that we once did. Which is why she's faster, and which means I have to accommodate. 

Being as JWW always runs faster, it wasn't but a short wait until we were ready to walk our JWW course. Although I didn't love the two tunnels, I had no other complaints. The challenges were fair and there was a good amount of room to move on the course. I planned to start at an angle to the #1 jump (from the left side) to give her the advantage of moving out and arcing initially in her movement. It also put me in a good spot to be able to get out between 3 and the tunnel. Once she was in the tunnel I planned on just backing up a couple steps and calling her to make the left exit and work the tunnel #6 entrance from the right. Again, I planned to back up and just call her toward me so she knew what direction but give the "weave" command. Here came the tricky part. I just didn't feel confident in attempting any sort of cross after #8. I felt like there was too little space and I'd end up sending her into the tunnel inadvertently. So I worked 8, 9, and 10 like a serpentine. After the weaves I pulled her toward me and pushed over 8, pulled over 9, and pushed over 10. I then planned a blind cross between 11 and 12 but ended up with a front, I believe. I worked the inside for 13 and 14 and planned (and executed!) a blind cross after 14. I also planned a blind cross between 17 and 18 with a "flip" to turn for 19.
I love how well I can count on my Vegas. She's super reliable, what others have called "honest." She will do what I tell her, even if I don't mean to tell her to do something. Our time on this run was 37.08. SCT was 47 and yards were 167. We were 10th place out of 16 qualifying runs.

All in all, a great day. Can't fault the oops on Standard and while that's the better run to Q in, I can count on my girlie for JWW.

Of course there was some more conformation, too, Thursday and I took some more random pictures.
The empty agility course...
The Pom ring...
Working Group...
The awesome FitPAWS booth - we had so much fun there!
From the evening specialty after Best in Show.
This is Stevie who earned his Championship on Saturday.
After Best in Show....nobody's around. Except the Dane peeps.
Vegas thought watching conformation was boring. She wanted home and dinner.
The beautiful pup, Darla.
We finally got out of there about a quarter after 9. It was a late night with an early morning the next day so we pretty much drove home, the dogs were fed, and we were all off to bed. Fourteen hours, two great runs, and a qualifying score plus a day spent with cool people.