One of the reasons I love this place is that it has warm water and real bathrooms, good food, a heated crating area (often), plenty of grass to get the dogs out and walk/potty, and the hotel is within a half mile. The hotel is a Microtel that is seriously on the scale (and better than) many high-end hotels I've stayed. Plus they're uber dog friendly which is huge.
So as I said, running small to tall today and they started with Fast, for which we weren't entered. Our judges for the weekend are Paula Ratoza and Ann B. McQuillen. We've run under Paula plenty of times; this is our first trial with Ann as judge.
Since I'm getting tired, I'm going to get right to it and will try to be more explanatory later.
The course was really running rough. It was truly a reason to celebrate when a single dog ran clean. It wasn't that the course was too difficult, just very handler heavy with pitfalls easy for the dogs to fall into - which they did. In fact, some of the problem areas might have just had written invitations the dogs just could not refuse. That said, I learned a lot watching the other dogs and had a chance to think out my handling strategy.
With Vegas' normal speed on the dog walk I knew I could get to the end and make a front cross so that was the plan to avoid an off course in the wrong end of the tunnel (Pitfall #1). Next - just a huge Woop woop! for the shorter chute being used already. What a huge relief - I don't think Vegas knew quite what to do with it! Originally I thought I would just stay to the inside for the 5, 6, 7 sequence to the table (#7 was much more straight on to the table than the map shows), but in walking it I felt comfortable, especially with the shorter chute, front-crossing after 6. The angles show pretty good for 9 to 10 here. Most people were handling from the left and originally I had thought to do otherwise. However, there's a good distance between 9 and 10 and I was concerned about pulling her off 10 so opted to handle the way the masses did. Of course that way risked an off course with the triple. The smoothest, prettiest way of handling the 180 (11-12) and wrap to the teeter was actually a front cross after 11 and another to pull her around the jump on the far side (instead of between the jumps). My plan from there to avoid major pitfall #2 (off course wrong end of tunnel #15) was to front cross after the teeter and handle from the left.
Well, Vegas was wound up and moving really fast! A great thing, just meant sometimes she was a bit like a freight train. Still not sure why she knocked the bar on #10, but oh well. She did fall prey to the wrong end tunnel #15 and instead of making her take it correctly, we finished the course. SCT was 66; we finished in just under 50. That would have made a nice addition to our point total, but it wasn't in the cards. Sure was fun though!
I timed for the 20" class of JWW. It had it's pitfalls, too, but mostly was a nice, flowing, fun course. The biggest issues in the 20" class were the dogs extending and taking #14 as an off course after 3, taking 13 as an off course after 8, and handling the 9-11 sequence.
Since we didn't have a double-Q on the line I decided this course presented a great opportunity for me to throw a bunch of blind crosses out there and see how Vegas handled them. I really felt confident in them but definitely knew I could rethink that if she wasn't reading it and change things up. But why not, right? Nothing ventured, nothing gained....
The locations I planned to - and did - drop in blind crosses were between 4 and 5, 7 and 8, and 12 and 13. I love, love, loved the long finish line that actually had room for V to run out of collection for once. All in all, a great course and one she did really well on.
2011 In Review
So for AKC this year alone, we accumulated 16 QQs, 362 points, attended our first AKC Agility Invitational, and took home the Top Great Dane medallion. We have grown exponentially as a team. Our bond and connection with each other is unchallenged and possible something I'll never experience again. I still love that girl with all my heart, possibly more with each passing moment we share. I cannot wait for 2012 and the things to come in our life together.