Albany. Raining like hell Saturday morning, on the road at 6 am with ETA of 7. First dog on the line at 9. Full dog show for the weekend so paid parking, mounted posse in the parking lot, the whole kitten caboodle. Not much crating space so despite the super small entry for this trial (cause the AKC Nationals were going on in Reno and nearly 100 teams were represented from the PNW - go Northwest!), people tend to not be so "give a damn" about space and spread out. The big dog needs a big space! Sorry, tis the truth. So anyway. It was an early! day.
So once we were set up, Rachel and I headed over with the pups to see our respective breeds in the ring. Except....Rotties were before Danes in our ring. *sigh* So I didn't see Danes in the ring at all this weekend except the one in the group ring each day.
We headed back over to the arena and ran before too terrible long. Tall to small both days.
Soooooo, this course looked pretty tough mostly due to the tightness of things. You can see right off the bat there was an off course jump lined up with the edge of the table. I know another competitor who is also an AKC judge questioned its distance from the table....never heard what the measurement was. Even without the risk of an off course, it was so close handlers could have run into it or dogs not watching might on the end edge. It was a concern.
Going into it I knew I would have to be vigilant, not that I'm not always. There were definite pitfalls with things that close. Of course it's always important for any dog, particularly a giant that's got more weight behind the motion, to set up the best lines and help the course to flow even when at times it may not. So that was my goal and I spent a good deal more time than normal walking the course.
My plan was to start out on Vegas' right, front cross after the walk, rear cross #6 (I debated a front after the a-frame but usually when I do that she thinks I'm blocking her and is more prone to launch.), and front cross after #11.
Our time was 46.23. There were 12 qualified runs in the 24" class; Vegas was 7th!
Right off the bat I could tell the tunnel would be a draw - yes, even with Vegas. She may be giant, but she's just as prone to a tunnel suck as any other dog. My plan all along was to stay to the outside (front of the ring) for the first four jumps. A front cross would not behoove me. But even at that I didn't expect it to be easy. There is little to look at for the dogs at #2 except the tunnel. Vigilance - and a VOICE - were key. So from there, a rear at 4 then a fast, moving (backward) front cross after 6 with a send into the #7 tunnel. I had to be really careful in my queue to slow and turn (to avoid #17) not to cause her to knock the #6 bar, too. Eight through 12 are fairly straight forward then I planned to rear 13 and move on in to the weaves. With the distance to the weaves and the potential to come inward too soon, I knew I wanted to stay with her to lock in on the weaves after 14. The 16th jump was a bit farther out to the right, I believe, in actuality, but my plan there was to drop in a blind cross after 16 as I headed to 17 or between 17 and 18. If I got behind at 19-20, I figured a get out command and me coming up behind and toward her would suffice to avoid coming in to the back side of 4, if that were even a thought that would cross her mind.
Our time was 35.42 and we finished sixth out of 12 dogs who qualified. Double Q #24 and 26 MACH points for the day!
I'll confess. Based upon how things went yesterday, I had a pretty good idea this was going to happen. Although I had a lot of reservations/doubts cause I hated to set myself up for failure that I knew would totally dishearten me. So it still felt REALLY GOOD for it to actually happen. :-)
During the Excellent Standard briefing, they did a general briefing that included the high in trial awards per group. What's really cool is that this weekend seemed to be the weekend for the less traditional breeds. I don't care that a ton of dogs that usually run in our area were gone. Every dog deserves its day and this weekend a great group got their moment to shine. For Friday's runs awarded during briefing Saturday, for example, our friends Julie and her dog Kado, a Shiba Inu, got High in Trial for the non-sporting group. They also got it for Saturday's runs! Their first and second time ever! Both days another superstar got a first and second high in trial for the Toy Group - a novice Pug! For the working group Saturday (Friday's runs), our friends Laura and Jada, a Rottweiler, earned their first.
And today, Vegas got her second High in Trial Working Group! So proud of my girl! It was just a month ago we were at this same location and she was so sick, so what a gratifying comeback and well-earned reward for my girl. I know she doesn't care about the recognition and the ribbon, but I think it matters and it shows what an excellent athlete she is.
This course looked fun! It was flowing and smooth and enjoyable! The game plan:
front cross after the weaves, blind cross after 8, and blind cross after the tire, if possible.
Our time was 49.23. We were 10th out of 14 dogs who qualified in the 24" class. And, for all my "motivating" attempts, she was smokin' along just fine! 18 MACH points - the most we've ever gotten in a single run! So proud of my girl. That was awesome!
And last but not least....
A truly ugly course - at least for a section that had the power to completely demotivate a dog. I realized how much more sensitive I am to this type of setup particularly after last weekend's trial. Jerking on my dog is not my idea of fun. It's not fun to her, certainly. The video will show, while my handling could have been better, certainly, she was demotivated and I just swore at the course at one point and then told her how awesome she was and didn't worry about the rest. The good thing about going into the last run of the weekend after three Qs is that you really can let it all go. I knew going in that it was a long shot. And I honestly didn't care. I'd try for it, but no matter what, I was going home with a winner.
The funny thing is, when first walking the course, I was cheering at #3 and 4 - look at the space! When walking, I kind of kept pace with Craig and got some ideas for how to handle this. I was never keen on crossing up that line between 4 and 7 so I stayed to the outside with the goal of pulling her toward me to set a line from 7 at a severe angle away from the tunnel opening and to make it easier to pull her around over 8 in the 180. The goal was then to keep her tight to me (to avoid #6 as an off course) and wrap into the second 180. I then was going to cross in front to send her into the tunnel. The only other plan I had after was a front or blind between 16 and 17.
She got a huge jackpot of cooked chicken anyway. She's my hero, my heart, the love of my life. She has made dreams come true I never even had, never even knew. It's hard to believe she's my first Dane, my first agility dog, she's such a wonder. Every day I am thankful for time spent with her.
Weekend Tally: 3 Qs, 1 Double, 44 points, one High in Trial.
MACH Countdown: 129 points to go