Friday, September 04, 2009

This Weekend--Hopes and Fears

SUMMARY: USDAA Southwest Regional Championship/Qualifier

This weekend my club, The Bay Team, hosts one of the six(?) annual Regional events for USDAA, the oldest and the most interesting and challenging agility venue in the United States.

Until last year, if you took 1st place in Steeplechase or Grand Prix at a regional, you earned a bye into the finals at Nationals. No more; firsts this weekend aren't special. The advantage here is that all qualifiers in Grand Prix or Steeplechase Round 2 earn byes into the semifinals at Nationals.

Of course, first you have to make it to round 2. In Grand Prix, you just have to run clean; in Steeplechase, your time plus faults has to be within 25% of the top 3 dogs' average score. Those Qs count towards titles and send you to the quarterfinals at the nationals (AKA round 1 at the nationals).

However, to get the bye into nationals semis, you have to do well enough in round 2 this weekend in comparison to the other dogs who made it to round 2. In Grand Prix, you have to be in the top 50% (I think, jeez, why isn't that in the premium? That's what it used to be). And in Steeplechase, you have to finish within 15% of the average of the top 3 dogs.

Plus there are all the regular classes.

My fear is--based on last night's performance in class--that I'll be forgetting courses again; I must have forgotten half the courses we ran.

My hope is that the dogs will run as well as they did in class last night. Tika ran two courses at 26" without knocking any bars, for example. Boost is running like a champ.

And once again, I try not to focus on titles too much, but for the record:
* Tika Jumpers Q at 26" completes her silver ADCH (that's like a regular championship 5x over).
* Boost Jumpers Q completes her MAD (master agility dog).
* Tika Performance DAM and either GP or Steeplechase earns her performance tournament master title.
* Boost gamble earns her masters gambler title.
* Tika needs 2 Performance Standards and a performance Jumpers for her performance MAD--of course she can't get the jumpers until she's finished that last one at 26".
* Tika Pairs Relay Q earns her performance masters relay title.
* Boost needs the first-round steeplechase Q to be qualified to run Steeplechase at the nationals. If we go. Which we won't. Unless boost wins round 2 this weekend. (It is to laugh! I laugh, ha ha!)

OK, better go back and get ready for four (groan) days of agility. I won't be online at all (unless I decide to come home one of the 3 nights after all) until Monday evening at the earliest.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Videos Videos Videos! GP and Pairs

SUMMARY: Grand Prix and Pairs Relay vids.

OK, trying something different for these videos from this weekend, rather than directing you to the 3-Dog Video site. These are all lower-resolution MP4 vids, displayed larger than their actual size so they're sort of grainy. You can click the 3-dog video link to have your option (like the prior day's vids) of which size/resolution to play.

I was able to purchase these videos on an introductory special price. Can't do it every weekend, but it was nice to get some for a change.

For discussions of these runs, see Saturday's and Sunday's posts.

Grand Prix

Grand Prix Boost
See the Dread Border Collie Spin in two places, one for a runout 5-point fault. But the rest is nice. (3-Dog Video versions.)

Grand Prix Tika
See her try very hard in 2 places to take the off-course obstacle but come back to me thank goodness gracious. (3-Dog Video versions.)

Pairs Relay

Tika goes to investigate the judge and gets a runout. (3-Dog Video versions.)

Boost pops weaves, knocks bar, and skips a jump. (3-Dog Video versions.)

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Actual Agility Video Footage!


Last weekend I promised to post some videos. OK, here ya go. I take my camcorder to every trial with me, but almost never remember to ask anyone to tape us. Last weekend, I finally did--on 4 runs only.

When transferring from my camera to computer, there was this odd jumping thing it was doing, like it was skipping frames or something. Not sure whether camera, tape, recording, playback--and I didn't feel like futzing with it to figure it out.

Round 1 Steeplechase

Tika wins in Performance, Boost Qs in Championship even with a bar down, because she was plenty fast.

Boost's run: Note that, on the first A-frame, I release her quickly, and on the 2nd Aframe, she doesn't bother actually doing 2 on/2 off or waiting for a release. And at the very end, instead of running ahead of me over the last line of jumps, she's kind of waiting for me and looking back a bit.

Tika's Run: Note a huge wide turn after the first Aframe, because I'm trying to get in front of her to make sure she gets a foot in the yellow zone so she thinks we're going straight instead of turning left.

Boost's run:

Grand Prix

Tika takes 2nd place.

Masters Jumpers

Boost and I still have some issues. Like, I'm trying to give her plenty of room to take a jump right in front of her before rear crossing, but she just won't do it, backs around it, and backjumps it. Most of the run isn't awful; she sends out nicely to one jump but, near the end, comes in around a jump I was trying to send her out to. And a bar down. Ah, well. Mostly she's starting to run instead of looking at me all the time.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

6th Photo

SUMMARY: An exercise from the "taggers" gamebook.

There are multiple meanings for "tagging" in the blogosphere (read my earlier post on this topic). Here, we leap into the fray with the type of tagging in which someone does xxx on their blog, then says to you, "I'm tagging you so that you have to do xxx on your blog, then you must tag nnn more people to do the same."

OK, I don't play that game. Unless I want to. And, if I want to, I'll do it even if I'm NOT tagged. But then I let others self-tag as I did if the game appeals to him or her. Here's the game as described in a Many Muddy Paws post:

Check your Photo Archives (or wherever you store your images), select the 6th file folder, open it, post the 6th picture contained there, and give the story behind it.

I thought, wow, I have a weird way of storing my photos, and this is a dog blog, and I don't want to post a blurry photo of my attempt to find a missing sprinkler valve or the like... plus I have nested folders within nested folders within nested folders.

But, when I followed the rules as best I could, here's what I got, and I'm happy to post it:

This is Jim Basic in September of 2001 with Mick, his first agility dog. Mick was the first dog in the US to earn agility championships in two different organizations. In USDAA, he was in the Top Ten in all four categories in multiple years. He was the first to earn the top lifetime award--platinum--and for a very long time had more Masters Qs than any other dog in existence, even after he retired. In fact, he's still #22 on the list, about 4 years after retirement.

In this photo, they're in the Grand Prix National Championship finals in Del Mar (near San Diego). They know that they have to hustle to try to win; they have to scrape together every fraction of a second that they can manage. And they're doing it, they're looking good, but Jim knows that he has to give everything he's got for one more win.

And so Jim makes an extremely daring, aggressive, and risky front cross right before the last jump of the run--and misjudges his turn, resulting in the photo that he probably most regrets of any I ever took:

(Note Scot Bartley in the background, calmly giving Jim a fault for touching the equipment--) With great humor, Jim just rolled over, laughed, held up a piece of the now-broken jump in victory, and said hello to Mick, who thought the whole thing was quite interesting. Jim has always been a good sport on top of being a tough competitor, a talented instructor, and a friend to his dogs.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday Good, Sunday Not So Hot--Literally and Figuratively

SUMMARY: Got a couple of Qs but there's work to do.

Saturday in Santa Rosa was cold but not awfully so. Both dogs ran well: 7 runs each in one day! They loved it, probably because they could go all out in the cold weather and not risk overheating. You know how canine athletes worry about that stuff, especially when they're not drinking Gatorade. It was a long day, though, not done until almost 9 PM. At least the club had planned for that & advertised dinner along with Strategic Pairs. But I felt pretty good at the end of the day with our successes and luck.

Sunday chilled us to the bone. 28F at 7:30 in the morning. Glad I took my ginormous purple down coat, which you can't miss noticing from half a mile away. And wore thermal underwear. Then around 4:00, just as I was ready to start hauling stuff out to my car, it poured. Dogs were still happy to run in the cold for another 4 runs each, but things didn't go quite so well and I had to work myself out of feeling disappointed.

To give you an idea of the chill--I always take an ice-filled cooler packed with my fave diet soft drinks because I can't stand warm diet soft drinks. This time, I skipped the cooler entirely and just left the cans loose in my car. They were plenty ice-cold, thank you very much!
The "Lytle Cow Palace," scene of our glories and disgraces and some really cold Alaskan weather come to visit.

Saturday Tika Team

Five of the runs were for Team. Tika ran clean and fairly fast in Jumpers and Standard, although (as I had expected) even with the new Qing system for Team individual events, she missed Qs by 1.7 seconds in Standard and 0.2 in Jumpers--although had I worked even one of my sloppy turns better, we'd have gotten that bonus Jumpers Q. She had a nice Gamblers opening and we were exactly where we needed to be to try for maximum points in the gamble--but knocked the 3rd bar, so had very high opening points but only so-so closing; no bonus Q there, either.

Tried for four reds in the Snooker, knocked the first bar, but recovered easily to accrue 49 points. Only about a dozen dogs of the 87 competing in all heights managed to do four reds and get through to the end, so she did have enough for a bonus Q here.

Her team did pretty good. After the first two rounds--Standard and Gamblers--where both teammates did even better than Tika--we were in 2nd place overall of 29 teams. One teammate Eed in the Jumpers round, so we lost our prime position, but the rest of our Jumpers and Snookers were pretty good, and we all ran well in the relay in which at least half the teams Eed. So we ended up 5th overall despite that Jumpers E, and with 18 teams Qing, we were well up there.

Can I fantasize for a moment? Without the Jumpers E, we'd have been plenty above the first place team's score. But, oh well, I'm very happy with how Tika ran and delighted with my teammates.

Pretty good, and very happy about that; that finished her 10th Team Q. So, to get our Tournament Platinum, we needed only EITHER the Steeplechase OR the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Saturday Boost Team

We were all younger, less polished dogs on this team. After the first two runs--Standard (where one teammate Eed and the other two of us bobbled and faulted our way through it) and Gamblers (where Boost wouldn't go OUT for a bonus and I dinked around trying to insist that she do it, so got really low points--and our teammates had lower points than that)--I think we were in 3rd to last place. Not promising for Qing.

In Jumpers, another teammate Eed, Boost accrued a ton of faults, and one teammate ran very well. In Snooker, Boost knocked a bar in the opening so missed some points and popped out of the weaves on a rear cross in the closing so lost a bunch more points; One teammate did very well and the other better than Boost.

But we had a wonderful relay run; placed 7th of the 29 teams, and so even with two Es earlier, we all held it together individually enough here and there, and fully half the teams wiped out of the relay, including some of the top ones, leaving us enough room to just squeeze into Qing territory by a mere 2.17 points out of our total of 914.84 (1st place at 1229.79 for comparison), placing 18th overall. So one more bar anywhere, or one more popped contact, or one more missed weave pole that someone had to go back for, out of our 15 combined runs, and we'd not have qualified. Whewwwwwww!

It was quite a surprise and delight to get that Q after what had seemed like a dismal showing. Sometimes I curse the high point value of the relay, but it saved us this time.

The rest of Saturday

Tika earned another Q in Masters Jumpers. Boost and I Eed early in that--serpentine that she wouldn't come in on (which I was lamenting about on Thursday, remember that?) and by the time I got her over the jump, I forgot where I was going and--while I stood there thinking--she backjumped. So still no MAD for the baby dog.

Strategic Pairs filled out the day. 19 teams stuck around for the fun.

Tika's Strategic Pairs partner, Chaps the wonder-Aussie, who just got back from spectacular successes at the Aussie nationals.

Tika and her partner ran clean, but Tika had some bobbles in our first segment when she got ahead of me and I couldn't direct her, and then we had a communication failure among human teammates so there were several seconds where we both were standing doing nothing. We still managed to come in 6th of 19, which was nice--only 6 seconds slower than the 1st place team... who was...

Boost and her partner! Ta-da! We had no faults, we communicated well, we didn't waste any time. Boost was not the dog I'd have ever guessed I'd win a wild game like Strategic Pairs with--but actually the judge(s) designed a course that was very straightforward for switching between two dogs, so it was just short, simple sequences.

So, at the end of the day, I felt pretty good about my agility weekend.

Boost and her Strategic Pairs partner, Taiko, who just got back from winning at the ASCA nationals.

Here is what Boost won for me in Strategic Pairs. I had no idea it would be something cool like this! Thanks, Bay Team SP prize czar!

Here is what Boost won also for me in Strategic Pairs. I don't imbibe, so my renter/dogsitter benefitted from this part.


Things fell apart a bit on Sunday. Not a lot. Just enough to take the edge off the general satisfaction for the weekend. It went like this:

Tika ran very nicely, fast, eager. In Steeplechase, almost 4 seconds under qualifying time, which is pretty good for her. But ticked the bloody broad jump. Just barely. I barely heard it and wasn't even sure whether I had heard it. We couldn't miss a Q by whacking a bar or flying off the Aframe or mishandling; no, we incurred 5 faults with a tiny tap of a toenail, putting us just out of Qualifying.

In Grand Prix, she ran fast and smoothly; we got through the whole course with no problems at all, nice tight turns, bars up, got the Aframe contact. The next to the last obstacle was the dogwalk, and she even got a foot solidly in the yellow zone going up, which has been one of our Grand Prix bugaboos. And then, 15 feet away from the last jump (which she kept up), she flew right off the end of the dogwalk, not even pretending to slow down for it. Crapola. Just one little flaw at the end of a lovely run.

So no Tournament Platinum.

Tika had a lovely Gamblers' opening, except that I lost her at one point, wasting time, and decided not to adjust for it; as a result, was way on the far side of the course with an Aframe between us and the gamble when the whistle blew. And she did the dang gamble, too, very professionally. But over time, so no Q.

And, in our opportunity to maybe pick up a placement, in Masters Pairs, I stepped into her path at the wrong stupid moment when I should've been stepping out, and pushed her into an off-course tunnel.

So not a Q all day.

Dogs get cozy crates with furry mats to curl up in during the freeze.

Boost ran very nicely all day, with no refusal or runout problems. She was such a good girl; very proud of her. But still... as I've commented before, there's only so long I can get by on "making progress" without "earning Qs".

I did the exact same stupid trick with Boost in Gamblers; she went into the weave poles in the wrong side so we had to restart, but again I decided that, since she's faster than Tika, I could go the extra distance and not adjust for it. Well--we ended up with more opening points than the first place dog, AND she also did the gamble perfectly, but only after (repeat after me) we were way on the far side of the course with an Aframe between us and the gamble when the whistle blew. Foolish handler trick again.

In Steeplechase, Boost had a lovely run, but had a bar down. Thought we might have qualified anyway, but nooo--there were 10 faults on our scribe sheet, not 5, and I have no clue what the other 5 were for. Another good reason to have your runs videotaped. But will that teach me? Nope, never does.

In Grand Prix, doh, I just skipped a jump. And this was a course I had already just run with Tika. Go figure. So--off-course.

In Pairs, however, she partnered with her SisterDog Bette, and both dogs decided to show the world what a wonderful litter they came from. We both had beautiful, clean runs, and placed 4th of 41 teams. So that was it, my sole Q for the day between both dogs. Disappointing, especially when several were so close.

This is how I end up averaging only 50% with Tika--one weekend with 9 of 10 Qs, the next weekend 2 of 8 or so.

Never did get the final word on what this was about--

And In Other News

Mom is home from the hospital, feeling good, injecting self with drugs (I knew there was a reason we needed to keep her from hanging out with those decadent hospital personnel), trying to get back to where she was muscularly before she had to lie in a bed for 4 days again. Yay, Mom! And I heard that Dad even got a good night's sleep a couple of nights ago, finally, after all that all-night hospital brou ha ha. Good on ya, dad!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Too Much Wind

SUMMARY: The wind blew blew blew all weekend. That must explain the dropped bars.

The Dixon site is known for its winds. They have had a trial or two over time where they had to strap the jump bars to the jumps to keep them from blowing off repeatedly, and relying on the judge for whether they SHOULD have fallen. Not quite that bad this time, but most of the jumps had to be staked, we used huge rocks to hold down everything on the score table (dang, why didn't I think to take a picture of that? It's the wind drying out my brain...), and my skin and respiratory system are so dessicated that they'd make the long-term inhabitants of the Valley of the Kings look thoroughly moisturized.

Qs, though, were in short supply.

Boost finally got her only Q of the weekend out of 10 tries, in the last run of the weekend, pairs relay. She knocked a bar (which is OK as long as your time plus faults stays below the required number), but she and her teammate had the second-fastest time of all 26 masters open pairs. That's very promising. And she did have a bit of a hesitation before one jump--not enough for a refusal but fractions of seconds matter--and I did hold her a bit on the Aframe because she's been leaving early. So the speed really is very promising when she actually runs instead of looking back at me to see what I'm doing and thence going around jumps or earning refusals.

And that finished her Relay title, which is her first Masters-level title. Happy!

Tika earned Qs in Gamblers both days, 5th place out of 17 both times (dang, just out of placement-ribbon range!), and also in pairs, and--funny thing for a dog who has earned most of her 25 Grand Prix Qs with 5 faults--she was one of only two 26" dogs who ran clean in the Grand Prix today, taking 2nd, which I think is the best we've ever done. So I guess it *is* possible that everyone else in the known universe could crap out at Nationals and we'd be left standing.

Except that the rest of her runs had issues, so the opposite seems more likely.

(Boost also did the gambles beautifully both days, but knocked a bar in each. Dang bars!)

Maybe more tomorrow. Mostly I had fun, mostly the dogs ran well, and very mostly indeed I'm glad to be home and out of that wind!

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

The World's Most Expensive Polo Shirt

SUMMARY: I'm out of excuses. Guess I'm going to Nationals. Besides, I want that shirt.

In her life, Tika has had 9 opportunities to earn a bye into the Grand Prix semifinals at the Nationals (and get a nifty "free" polo shirt to commemorate the occasion), which you can do either by placing in the top 50% in Round 2 of the regionals or the top 50% in the quarterfinals at the nationals:
  • Regional 2003: Made it to Round 2 at her first-ever regionals. Still a green dog. The run was flawless--well, except the little detail of running between the tire and the upright instead of going through the tire
  • Regional 2004: Made it to Round 2. Don't know what happened--we had 15 faults there.
  • Nationals 2004 quarterfinals: 5 faults. Placed 36th, and 34 dogs went to the semis.
  • Regionals 2005: Eed in round 1.
  • Nationals 2005 quarters: 5 faults. Placed 50th, and 41 dogs went.
  • Regional 2006: Made it to Round 2. Got called on the dogwalk up for 5 faults Placed 16th and 13 dogs got byes.
  • Nationals 2006 quarterfinals: Clean up to the next to the last jump, where I got overexcited and caused a backjump.
  • Regional 2007: Made it to Round 2. Fell off the dogwalk and Eed when I spent time making sure she was OK.
  • Nationals 2007 quarterfinals: I just messed up and pulled her out of the weaves early trying to run aggressively. Clean otherwise.
  • Regional 2008: Clean run and pretty fast for the Tika dog, and for her mom, too! (Although a full 6 seconds off the fastest dogs.) We did it! We did it! Taj MuttHall is just about overwhelmed with joy!

Who cares if no Taj MuttHall dogs Qed in dumb old Gamblers, Standard, or Steeplechase! Those Qs were probably all sour anyway.

The cost just to pick up the polo shirt that I've been wanting so badly for so long: A week off work, a drive to Arizona, a week in a hotel, massive entry fees for the Nationals, team shirts for the DAM teams... and all the incidental expenses, too. We're not adding up the cost to *earn* that polo shirt.

Another competitor was speculating that, if she earned that bye, maybe she could just send in her entry form and pay the entry fees, not bother making the trip, and just have someone pick up the shirt for her. Pricey for a polo shirt, but not as pricey as actually making the trip.

Boost and Tika celebrating their nationals qualifications with a little frisbee:

Scully, the Princess dog who never plays at trials, thinks that might actually look like fun:

Sparkle believes that there is evidence to be found, even if it's not yet clear about what:

There might be gophers here:

Ewww, what's this? Smells gross! Ewww! Guess I'd better roll in it!

Most of the judges getting their instructions from Leslie, who organizes workers:

Judge Scott 'splains what it's all about:

Taj MuttHall and Tie-Dye Superwoman pay no attention to the camera while working at the score table all weekend:

Our rideshare, Scully & Sparkle's mom, walks a course in her cool tie-dye.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Zero-Fault Grand Prixs

SUMMARY: You just knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

Well, folks, we're getting word that the 2009 Grand Prix qualifying season will now require clean runs to qualify.

Sigh--I knew that would happen sooner or later. There go all of Tika's future GP qualifiers. (It's like steeplechase--knocked bars have kept her from qualifying SO many times; now it'll be the same in the GP. 19 of her 25 GP Qs have been with 5 faults. And one of Boost's two Qs has been with 5 faults. Basically-- I'm doomed.)

Here's how they've gradually been shortening the leash:

Grand Prix introduced: 1988. I have no info from then through 1996.

1997: 15 or fewer faults to qualify.
1998, 1999: I can't find info. Anyone have this?
2000, 2001, 2002: 10 or fewer
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006: 7 or fewer
2007, 2008: 5 or fewer
2009: 0 or fewer

2012: 0 or fewer faults within 25% of the top three finishers?

2015: The top three finishers with 0 faults?

Maybe I shouldn't even suggest those, even facetiously, in might give the wrong people some bad ideas...

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Tika is Qualified in Grand Prix

SUMMARY: A relief to discover--

I was just putting Tika's ribbons from this weekend on the wall, and had to move a couple of older ones, and so noticed a 2008 Grand Prix qualifying ribbon already nestled among Tika's ribbons from last fall. Sure enough--she DID already get one GP Q, and now this weekend's makes two, and so now she's Qed for Nationals in GP. Whew! Just one more Steeplechase and she'll be all set. If I decide to go. Looking at her times compared to others in the Steeplechase in particular, but all the classes in general, plus this ongoing occasional soreness thing, makes me wonder whether it's worth the trip. I don't have to decide yet--

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend Courses

SUMMARY: Some interesting courses from the Haute TRACS event.

Here's a selection of interesting courses from this weekend. Coincidentally, they also are all from different judges (also judging, Tami McClung).

Team Snooker

I like Snookers that give people a lot of reasonable options so that everyone isn't running virtually the same course over and over. That's hard to do. Tammy did a nice job with this one by making 3 and 7 (and 4 of course) one-way-only during opening and closing and 2, 5, and 6 usable from any direction, any which way. Time was 50 secs for large dogs, 55 for 16", and 60 for 12".

The 4, 5, 6, and 7 were most-frequently used in the opening in various combinations. I had a two-part strategy: Find something that flows fairly nicely so I didn't have to be doing call-offs and threadles between obstacles, and secondly, hope that everyone else trying to do more complicated things crap out. Hence, my plan was (as numbered on the map) middle red to #2 to right red to #4 teeter, to left red to #5, to upper red. After that, I veered onto the dogwalk #7 for Boost because she has fast & reliable contacts, and #6 for Tika because her dogwalk up and down are iffy but her weaves are good.

It worked well except that Boost slid off the dogwalk on the way up (I guess I didn't line her up well, although she also slid off the dogwalk in the Standard ring later, and the teeter later, too) so I had to go back and redo it, and then she knocked the bar on #3 in the closing. She actually did a great job of sending out to the red after the teeter and then swinging around and sending ahead of me to the #5 pinwheel--except she knocked one of the bars there. Still, no refusals that I remember.

And I was already feeling stupid and lethargic in Tika's closing and didn't bother lining her up for the #4 teeter, so she came on from the side above the contact, earning a whistle.

Huh, I forgot to note what the higher or typical scores were for this class; sorry. Will fix that when the results are posted online.

Team Gamblers

Team Gamblers is always interesting because it's nontraditional. Funny that a USDAA friend commented to me recently that she wasn't that fond of CPE nontraditional gambles because you always had to figure out new rules, whereas traditional gambles you don't--but everyone accepts and generally likes to play Team Gambles, which are exactly the same concept as CPE nontraditional gambles. (Judge invents something. Period.)

This was a how-greedy-are-you kind of gamble. Big dogs had 30 seconds. The Aframe was worth zero, BUT it doubled any points that you had gotten up to that point. You could do it once, and then continue earning points as usual until the whistle blew. Attempting it and blowing it did nothing except waste time. However, the gotcha was this: If your dog was on the Aframe in any way at all (e.g., even holding a 2-on, 2-off) when the whistle blew, you lost EVERYTHING.

Also, if you did the weaves as a gamble from behind the line, they were worth 7 instead of 5.

Many people did some part of this sequence: tire-teeter-jump(to the left)-tire-teeter-"get to the weaves"-weaves-tunnel-weaves-jump-Aframe, where "get to the weaves" is either the tunnel or the 3 jumps after the teeter. If you completed ALL of it successfully, this sequence earned you 78 points. Most people didn't try for the whole sequence, maybe leaving out the tire at the beginning (which I left out for Tika but did with Boost), or going directly from the first weaves to the jump-Aframe, etc.

Highest score was 89, good lord, I have no idea how they managed it--even doing that sequence and then doing the tunnel under the Aframe twice would've been only 84 points and you'd have to be really really really fast to do that.

Typical scores were in the 60-64 range. Both my dogs popped out of their first set of weaves, dagnabbit, must be something in the water and not something their handler was doing. Tika ended up with 64 points, placing 19th of 43; Boost had 60, placing 28th of 73. (ANd I'm still puzzled because I thought she did 2 points MORE than Tika! Never had time to go back and check the scribe sheet.)

Grand Prix

The Grand Prix had about a 50% Qualifying rate, I believe, but very few of those were clean qualifiers. I think that only about 4 dogs out of 44 in Tika's jump height, for example, had clean runs, although a bunch qualified with 5 faults.

A lot of people had problems of one sort or another in the sequence between the dogwalk and the #15 tunnel. There was much debate about whether to send the dog to #13, and serpentine #14 into the tunnel, but I think it was tighter in reality than it looks on paper. Some people front crossed between 13 and 14 and pulled into 15; some did front crosses in both places.

Tika flew off the dogwalk while I stopped flat-footed in an attempt to get her to make the contact, then when I called her hard, she knocked the bar on #13 but still didn't turn in time to avoid the runout line on #14, so within 2 obstacles we had 15 faults. The rest was nice.

Boost was having weave pole issues a lot the first day, including here.

Another problem area for people was the 10-11-12 sequence. I handled it by running on the far side of the dogwalk, rear crossing the tunnel, and catching up to my dog for a wrap to the dogwalk. They both slowed and looked back at me, but weren't close enough to 11 for a refusal. Tika pushed/wrapped nicely, but Boost looking back at me put her into multiple-refusal-land, and this is the point in the course where I finally left. Ashley's the only one I saw who did it on that same side AND got a front cross in before the #10 tunnel. Most people ran on this side of the dogwalk, with the dog veering off towards the tire before the handler got there, sometimes taking it for an offcourse, or ended up backjumping the #11, either before or after taking it the correct way.

Coming out of the #15 tunnel to #16, an amazing number of dogs headed straight for the chute or the #20 final jump (again indicating that the actual layout was slightly different from the course map). Some dogs went around #17 or #18 or both. The #6 to #7 caused some off courses at #3. The 7-8-9 caused some off courses onto the dogwalk.

In short, lots of opportunities to screw up.

There were


The Steeplechase really wiped people out. There were some, like me, who took the Aframe path after the first set of weave poles instead of the correct path. The biggest challenge was the 12-13-14. Lots of dogs had problems with the broad jump itself, and many dogs went into the wrong end of the #14 tunnel. There were some offcourses from 10-11 over the 18 or 3, but not as many as you might think, as those were fairly obvious problems that people were prepared for.

The #5-6-7 also gave problems. I think that the jump was further to the right, in reality, so a lot of dogs were pulling past it on the left as the handler broke off towards the weaves.

Many many many missed weave entries, particularly after the #6, and it's not entirely clear to me why, unless the dog was heading for the tunnel and so came in at an odd angle. Tika had no problem. Boost made the entry but skipped the next pole, but she's been doing that a lot lately so I don't think it had much to do with the course.

Fastest times were in the mid-28-seconds, posted by Cap, Luka, and...uh...I should remember but don't (having worked that score table most of the day--wow what a long class, 5 hours!). Those fast times plus the high fault and offcourse rate kept the number of qualifiers very low, it seems to me.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nationals Practice

SUMMARY: Good practice today, but tired.

Every year, the weekend before Nationals, Power Paws Agility hosts a nationals practice for their students. It's lovely--free--plus snacks and drinks--plus courses from previous Nationals Grand Prixs and variations thereof.

Today's weather was absolutely lovely for it. Not too warm, but sunny. Just a teeny breeze. Hazy--apparently we're getting a wee bit of the air crud from the southern california fires, 300 miles and more south from here! Amazing.

I ran Boost, even though she's not competing. She did very well. Knocked a couple of bars when I called her wrong, had a couple of runouts on tough pulls, and skipped the second weave pole on a tough entry that almost everyone (except Tika, woot!) had trouble with, but she got it easily the second time around the course, and not everyone did. And her contacts remain fast and accurate.

Tika ran well enough, but I notice the lack of speed especially in comparison to Boost. She moves efficiently around the course, but she doesn't drive like I've seen her do sometimes, or like when she spies a squirrel, or even when I'm tossing the frisbee. This is summed up as follows: In two of the previous 3 years at Nationals, her speed was plenty fast enough to get her into the Grand Prix semifinals, but each time we had a 5-point fault, which dropped us just below the cut-off point. If she had been half a second to a second faster, even the fault wouldn't have kept us out.

But she did her contacts fairly quickly today, even the dogwalk, which I've been working on lately for speed (although never enough, never enough!).

The worst part of today was how tired and brick-like my legs were, once again, from yesterday's mile test at Boot Camp. First 3 or 4 runs were OK, but my feeble attempts at sprinting became less sprintlike and more thudlike; after run #8 (4 each dog), three and a half hours after the first one, I called it quits for the day.

My first run at Scottsdale isn't until Thursday, so I should be hale and hearty by then. The trick is to keep up with my daily one-mile walks to maintain my stamina for the site, without overextending myself.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Grand Prix vs Standard

SUMMARY: What's the difference?

OK, you agility geniuses. Grand Prix is basically just a Masters Standard course without the table, right?

So why on earth does Tika run clean in Masters Standard more than 20% of the time, but only 10% of the time in Grand Prix?

(As a side note, 45% of her Grand Prixs are 5-point-fault runs, but only 20% of her Standard runs--which brings up the question of why she gets 0 or 5 faults in 55% of her Grand Prixs but only in 40% of her standard? Only 6% are table-related, near as I can tell, so that doesn't make up the difference.)

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saturday at the Regionals

SUMMARY: Tika does well, Boost doesn't

I'm tired so this will (probably) be (mercifully) short. Not posting general results, which is silly--I was there and working score table and could have gotten them. But nooo, didn't occur to me until now. But I was busy enough that I haven't even written down my own dogs' scores yet, just kind of glanced at them.

We did DAM Team and Grand Prix Round 1 today.

Tika did reasonably well in Team; one refusal on a Standard course that claimed a lot of dogs; one bar in a Jumpers course on which maybe half the dogs went off course; 7th of 53 in Gamblers, and I think 9th in Snooker. And she didn't E in the Ream Relay, either. Her partners weren't quite as lucky this time around--including a heartbreaking E in the Team Relay where the judge Eed the dog because, he said, the dog had stopped at the bottom of the dogwalk all the way off and then stepped backwards with one foot onto the contact. Oh, well. But 38 teams Qed, and we were--38th. By the hair of the whiskers of our teeth!

Boost's teammates did fairly well today, too, and Boost did credibly in Gamblers. In STandard, I thought we had Eed on refusals again, but in fact survived with only a weave pop-out and 2 refusals. However, in Snooker we had catastrophic weave failure in the opening so ended with 7 points; in Jumpers we looked like we'd never been on a course together before; and in Team we Eed with a zillion refusals plus popped out of the weaves pllus finally at the end ran past a jump for an offcourse.

So Boost won't be running in anything at Nationals this year.

In Grand Prix, Tika was uninspired--it was hot, she probably needed to potty; I was hot and probably needed to potty--she edged her way down the dogwalk rather than running--but in fact we Qed with 0 faults, only the 4th time (if I'm remember the count correctly) in her whole life where she Qed without 5 faults. But this was the same thing last year--in round 1, 0 faults; in round 2, where we really needed 0 faults to be in the top 50% to get a bye into the semis, 5 faults.

So we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Interestingly, we got through well over 400 runs per ring by (I think) 6:00 or a little after. Things went very well overall, and it was quite warm and humid for here but really not stunningly hot, and we had a firm breeze all afternoon.

OK, dogs barking, me tired, bedtime.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Winning Dogs

SUMMARY: Ashley and Luka again

Ashley noted in class last night that he has, so far this year, entered 7 Grand Prixs with Luka and won all of them. That means that no one else in 16" has earned byes. I'd imagine he's not popular among other 16" handlers on the west coast. That follows after winning all three major AKC events in the last year.

What kind of dog does it take to do that, you might ask? Those of you among the more experienced probably realize that the dog has little to do with it. Luka was a hesitant, worried, not very fast dog when they started. Ashley is an energetic, athletic, intelligent, driven, obsessive young man who has absorbed every piece of info needed to improve their weaknesses and incorporated it diligently--and I mean more diligently than I've ever seen anyone--into his training regimen.

He has worked very hard at getting to where he is, and it just proves my point that almost any dog, with the right handler, can be a champion. It's just a little easier with certain breeds.

They won Steeplechase and Grand Prix at the Northwest Regionals; we'll see what happens this weekend at the Southwest Regionals.

If you already had byes under your belt for Grand Prix, would you keep entering? There's no money to be won, no big shiny trophies. Sure, the Qs are useful points in accruing one's bronze, silver, gold, and so on, but would you feel odd about shutting everyone out like that? I think, if I were ever in a position like that, I'd just keep on entering. I mean, if I'm at the trial anyway, I might as well. It's good practice, it is points towards higher titles, and it feels good to push myself and to do well. And I think it would feel even odder to say (even if only to myself), "Well, I won't enter because I'm so much better than everyone else and I want to give the others a chance."

Back in high school, where I competed in speech and debate, there was much discussion along similar lines at the state championships the year I qualified. The two members of one of the two finalist debate teams had already qualified for the nationals in their individual events. At the nationals, they would *also* be allowed to compete in other events, such as debate, even if they didn't win at the state level. So, if they conceded the final debate at state, they could still enter it at nationals, and then the other team would also be able to go to nationals. If they won, however, they'd be shutting out everyone else from nationals. Should they concede or should they do their best to win the state title? They, naturally, competed and won.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

USDAA Weekend Brief Results

SUMMARY: Not what I had hoped for, but there are signs of hope.

What I hoped for on friday and what I actually got:
  • Tika:
    • Hoped for: Steeplechase Q. Got: No Steeplechase Q. (Knocked 2 bars.)
    • Hoped for: Grand Prix win. Got: 5-fault Q. (This extends our lifetime GP Qs to two clean Qs and 17 5-point Qs. Arrrrghhh!)
    • Hoped for: Wins or at least placements in everything else. Got: Q/5th place in Saturday Standard (for 1 whole top-10 point); 2nd place and Super-Q in Snooker Sunday (for 7 top-ten points); I'm quite pleased with the latter. (And 4 non-Qs and 2 other nonplacing Qs.)
  • Boost:
    • Hoped for: Grand Prix Q or Steeplechase Q or preferably both. Got: Neither.
    • Hoped for: Pairs Q and Standard Q. Got: Neither.
    • Hoped for: Good weave poles. Got: Mixed bag. She missed almost all--but not all--of her weave entrances, but, once in, popped out only 3 times, and I made it a point to do weaves in gambles & snookers for lots of opportunities. So--not as bad as some prior trials. But *weaves alone* kept us from a Steeplechase Q, and *weaves alone* kept us from a Standard Q on Saturday. Sigh.
    • Hoped for: Move up to Masters before Bay Team next weekend. Got: Enough Gamblers and Snookers Qs that we can--and will--move up to Masters in those.

Now I am exhausted and heading to bed.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fun With Databases

SUMMARY: Tika and I are improving; the data proves it.

At each of the last five trials, Tika has come home with at least one new USDAA title. That reflects two things: one, we're right in the numbers where we just need a couple of legs here and there to fill in some of those titles; two, we're actually getting Qs more consistently. In fact, we're approaching a 50% Q rate over the last year.

Got me a-wonderin': It seemed like ages and ages between legs for Tika for the longest time. How long WAS it? So I turned to my handy-dandy database of all of my runs, ever, in agility, and figured the following about Tika's Masters level runs:
  • The first ten Qs took 62 tries over 12 months. (The length of time, of course, is somewhat reflective of how many trials are available and that we attend.)
  • The second ten Qs took 50 tries over 8 months.
  • The next ten took 31 tries over 4 months.
  • The next 10 took 21 tries over 4months.
  • The next 10 took 25 tries over 6 months. (oh--that included several runs where I couldn't run worth beans because of my knee and several more where we tried having Ashley run her and she'd have none of it. So these numbers are a little skewed.)
  • The next ten took 22 tries over 2 months.
  • This last weekend, we got another 5 out of 9 tries.

I like the way the numbers are going.

But it's going to be a while for more titles, most likely, because we're now entering the gap between 15 Masters legs per class (Bronze title in each class) and 25 Masters legs (Silver titles) per class. That's a lot of Qing for us. Although we could finish our Tournament Silver the first weekend in June if our re-reformulated team manages a DAM Team Q.

But here's what really intrigues me: My impression was that, of all those missed Qs, we've missed a million legs by single knocked bars or missing the dogwalk up contact--but no! Only 17 were single knocked bars, and 4 missed dogwalk ups! We've had combinations of those, and those with other faults, but our single-fault non-Qs aren't as many as I had thought.

However, if you toss in Grand Prixs... another 4 one-bar runs, another seven dogwalk-up-onlys. Huh--wonder what it is about the GPs and our dogwalks? Go figure.

Meanwhile, I'd love to have the consistency of Luka and Ashley, who have now won every major AKC event this year. Sucks that Norway won't let them in to be on the US World Cup Team because of her docked tail. We'll have a big celebration in class Wednesday night, though, I'm sure, for this latest win at the Tryouts. And I'll just have to keep remembering that I'm not Ashley, I'm me.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Another Three Days of USDAA

SUMMARY: Tika 5 Qs including Team; Boost only one, but finally nailed weaves. Plus rain. Plus the usual post-trial whining.

For the third year in a row, I'm so glad that I didn't sign up for all four days of Haute TRACS. Three days is just too much, plus when I miss the Steeplechase cut so narrowly by stupid handler mistakes, I don't think I could sit and watch it and really enjoy it. In addition, I've taken the opportunity today to dry everything out--but I get ahead of myself.

Wednesday night

Wednesday night I fell asleep at home pretty quickly, with the alarm set for 4 a.m. But I woke suddenly about 1 a.m. with the horrid realization that I hadn't sent in my entry for the SMART trial in 2 weeks, with Grand Prix and Steeplechase qualifiers, and closing was the next day. I had to get up, fill out the forms, send email to the secretary, make copies to take with me in case the sec was there this weekend, and stamp and address an envelope.

Then I couldn't get back to sleep. Finally gave up about quarter to four, assembled myself, and headed on out to Dixon May Fairgrounds, so I looked and felt my best that morning-- I wanted to run like the all-American competitor-- man, I wanted, I wanted to feel like-- I wanted to BE the all American agility competitor.


I had entered Boost and Tika in everything, which gave me 14 runs on Thursday (5 for DAM Team plus Standard and Jumpers). AND I was signed up to be co-chief ring steward in one ring with Boost's sister Bette's mom, Mary. The site was laid out in four rings end-to-end with a large swath between them with a roadway, grass, and vendor booths. It was a long walk. The DAM and Masters runs were in three of the rings and Advanced (in which Boost and Bette were entered) were in the fourth, far ring.

I did a lot of walking. Pedometer said 14 miles on Thursday. I hardly ever sat down. Apparently we were supposed to be avoiding using the loudspeaker very much to avoid annoying the neighbors, so there were only occasional announcements. Thank goodness that three of the rings were synchronized, but trying to keep an eye on Starters vs. Advanced in the far ring and set up ring crew for 12 rotations in our ring was overwhelming. Fortunately Mary didn't have a dog in Masters, so she ended up doing most of the work.

Tika teamed with Brenn (from our National finalist team last year) and a Papillon, Roxee, run by Rob, a very experienced handler--has been doing agility since the very early '90s, so almost from the beginning of the sport in the U.S. But Roxee's still a bit of a wildcard--still young, and trained by his owner who can't physically run her. Still, we asked them to join us for fun. 53 teams entered, which meant that at least 27 teams would qualify for nationals. Since Team consists of five full classes, you really don't want to have to keep paying for and trying to Q over and over.

Team Standard course was murder: fully half of all dogs eliminated, and since Team is all about not eliminating (if you want to qualify), the fact that Brenn and Tika both had lovely runs (Tika with a bar down)--although Roxee Eed--meant that we were above average to start with. Our team rated 18th of 53 in this class.

Team Jumpers also killed a lot of dogs. I think that, as the day went on and people watched earlier handlers making fatal mistakes, the non-E rate improved, so that there were fewer than 50% Eing. Although Roxee again Eed and Brenn had a couple of bars down, Tika's clean, fairly fast run and Brenn's fairly fast time placed us 10th in the Jumpers class, which surprised me immensely.

In the afternoon, we moved on to Team Gamblers, in which I once again found a course that I really liked for Tika both in the opening and closing, we executed it perfectly with no bobbles or complaints from the girl that I wasn't being clear, and we placed individually 2nd of 39 dogs; Brenn's score was good and Roxee's low but not terrible, and our team placed 18th.

In Tika's Team Snooker, I chose a not-too-aggressive course that I thought Tika and I could handle easily, with only one oddball turn and angle off to one of the Reds, but while Tika was in the weaves, I apparently started looking for that red because she popped out of the weaves, and we fumbled around a bit to get back in--and then, disoriented, I put her back over the red we had just come over. So we had only 8 points on a course where pretty much everyone was going for four reds and doing well, so we essentially Eed on that course. Brenn did well but Roxee backjumped after getting 24 points and our team was only 42nd of 53 in this class.

Typically, you can still Q if your team collectively has only one E, and sometimes with 2, but almost never with 3 Es, and we already had 3 Es with the Team Relay still to go, which is very heavily weighted. None-the-less, because so many dogs had Eed in Standard and Jumpers, we were in 17th place before the Relay, which meant that probably if we managed to avoid any one of us Eing, we'd be among the 27 Qing teams.

I don't remember exactly who did what in the relay--Brenn might have had a bar down--Roxee popped out of the weaves and almost went off course before Rob could get her back and fix the problem and then had a refusal somewhere, too-- But overall it was a pretty easy course so almost no one Eed on it, which meant then that your team's time was the critical factor in placing within the Relay, and with the bobbles and our generally conservative approach, we were a mere 35th in the Relay--

BUT combining the five events with their weighted values, we ended up 20th, safely in the Q zone. Woo hoo.

Boost's Team Snooker was more of a disaster. I had been feeling pretty confident with Boost when we set up the team--after all, she had done well enough for a baby dog at the Nationals in November and had finished her novice title in just a couple of trials. But we've not been doing so well in Advanced.

In Team Standard, none of the three of us went off-course, which was astounding on that course with three young dogs. However, Boost had 3 bars down and 5 (!) refusals, and 3 refusals automatically becomes an E. And Bette kept popping out of the weaves, so their run was almost 70 seconds, which cost us a lot of points. But Maiya's run was lovely and we were 30th of 53 in that class. And Boost in fact had no problems whatsoever with the weaves, which I'd been worried about since that's been our bugaboo this year. It was everything else that messed us up!

Team Jumpers proved problematic for both Boost and Bette, both of us Eing, but Maiya was beautiful again. Team Snooker was going OK for us until Boost knocked a red in the opening, I had to scramble to rearrange my course plan on the fly, and I couldn't call her off an off course. So we had only 17 points on a course where the best dogs were getting 59--OK, better than Tika, but not much. Bette had problems even earlier, but Maiya hung on for 43 points. That was our lowest point, placing overall 47th of 53. But at least we weren't last!

In Team Gamblers, I don't know what we did at the end of our opening but I know that we got more points than what showed on the scribe sheet and possibly a lot more. BUT in the closing we bobbled the weaves badly and got no gamble points. Bette did the weaves successfully so had a bunch more points, and Maiya did well, but overall none of us were stellar, so we ranked 41st in this class.

For Team Relay, Boost and Bette redeemed themselves partially in this high-value class by running fast and clean, Boost even doing weaves again, but Maiya went off course, for a change of pace. We placed 43rd in the Relay and 43rd overall, a long way from the 27th cutoff to qualify.

In Normal Land, Tika's Master Standard was beautiful and fast but she knocked the next-to-last bar. Masters Jumpers got us an E in an odd way. I had walked it at the same time as the Team Jumpers, and when I raced up to ringside with Tika after various conflicts, I had one dog to look at the course, and I couldn't remember it! So as I walked Tika out, put her in a sit-stay behind the starting jump, and walked out to my lead-out position past the 2nd jump, I was still looking around the course, trying to remember my path. When I turned around, Tika was waiting to go--in a crouch BETWEEN the first and second jumps.

Well, I had no idea whether she had gone over the first jump, but it didn't really matter, as this meant that she had left the start line without any ready signal from me of the least kind. So I walked her back to her crate and that was that.

Boost's Advanced Jumpers and Advanced Standard runs were generally chaotic, with no course faults on the Standard but so many corrections of runouts and such that we were over time. Oddly enough, only 3 of 11 dogs ran clean on that course, so we actually placed fourth.

I fell asleep instantly and slept soundly Thursday night in the back of my van. I've always slept with my head behind the driver's seat, and every time it feels as if the van slopes slightly downward, so my feet are higher than my head, and every time I'm too exhausted to want to get up and move my pillow to the rear. This time I remembered while setting up. It was much more comfortable in that direction for many reasons.


Started out cool like Thursday, but not quite as cool, and got fairly warm as the day wore on. Only five runs per dog, but one was the Grand Prix qualifier. Tika knocked a bar on a tough opening where a large percentage of dogs went off course. Then somehow we ended up with a refusal at a jump, which right there put us out of Qualifying, and then when I got her turned around again and made a U-turn to the dogwalk, she slipped on the up ramp and took quite a nasty-looking, twisting spill, hitting the dogwalk on her way off the side. It knocked the breath out of ME, seeing that happen, but she bounced up, twice as excited as before, so with the judge's encouragement, I put her back on the dogwalk and we finished nicely. Boost was a handful. Seems that we were running past or fixing or refusing or redoing every third or fourth obstacle all the way around, and we managed an E one way or another. The judge bipped over to us as Boost was holding on the Aframe (after our E) and asked in a friendly voice whether this was a baby-dog. Really? Was it obvious? Sigh. This puppy just might not compete in Nationals this year.

In other news, Tika's Master Gamblers I bobbled a rear cross, pulling Tika off a teeter, resulting in us missing finishing the weaves for points by 2 poles, and then the gamble was virtually identical to the one at our CPE trial, where I managed to send her from #1 directly to #4, and despite thinking I was handling it differently, I managed to do the same thing again. There went our first chance at dreams of glory of staying in the USDAA Top 25 for a while longer. If we had finished the weaves and made the gamble, we might have been placed high enough for a couple of TT points, but not way up there anyway. We Qed in Relay with Brenn with a couple of my bobbles that wasted time (9th of 43 teams, not bad but it's always better to get a ribbon).

Tika Qed in Standard with a nice, flowing, but not super-driven run. Still, it was 5th of 23 dogs, so I think that's enough for 1 more TT point there--AND that finished her Standard Championship (10 masters standard Qs). In Jumpers, she once again kept her bars up, but I've been trying to run more aggressively, so I left her to her own devices to take a slight push-out to a jump and raced ahead, but she came past the jump for a runout, so no Q there.

Meanwhile, Boost wowed the Known World with a completely gorgeous Advanced Gamblers run and win. I even started her on the weaves to see whether she could do them, and she did. We got compliments from a few talented people with wonderful dogs. Truth is that's just a course that was built for us to do; no major handling things, which is where we fall down, but lots of contacts and tunnels in an arrangement where we could do them all over & over. But in her other three Advanced classes, we Eed--although I felt we were getting smoother, we had no offcourses, but I had already decided that it's more important for my dog to keep driving at a competition, so when she ran out past jumps, I just kept her moving rather than going back and fixing it. I like that super drive and I don't want her to start worrying that I'm going to stop her and bring her back, like I did with my first dog before I got smart.

There was a fund-raising dinner that evening that was announced only once and did no publicity that I saw. It was a phenomenal spread of food hosted by one competitor, and by the low turnout I'm afraid that they spent more on the food than they brought in. But we had a good time chatting and eating.

There was supposed to be a chance of showers on Saturday, so I wrapped everything outside the van in plastic, set up my canopy over the dog's crating area with side rain panels, and slept. It showered somewhat off and on during the night; heard it on the roof.


In the morning it seemed to have stopped but remained completely overcast. The pacesetters for the Steeplechase Q times ran fairly early in the day--we didn't know that they were pacesetters until it started raining again partway through the morning and then never let up. This meant that the dogs and handlers never ran as fast the rest of the day, although some came close.

Tika's Steeplechase run nearly broke my heart. If she can keep her bars up, we can Q. She did her job and kept her bars up. And I love Steeplechases with 2 weaves, because she can make pretty tough entries and is pretty darned good about staying in, both of which give us an advantage that we don't always have in speed in other areas. BUT the first approach was a very hard turn, and I called her but trusted her too much and she barely skidded in--to the 2nd pole, not the first. Aughhh! In steeplechase, that's not a fault, but it wastes time, and I'm sure that it takes 2 seconds to pull the dog out, bring her back to the beginning, and restart. So I really really pushed the rest of the course, and she was so good! And the second approach required a front cross for a really tight, fast entry, and I over-crossed, so I pulled her AWAY from the weaves and she spun towards me. Probably another 2 seconds to turn her and get her back in. We missed the cutoff by less than a second. I just about collapsed in a heap of seeting frustration.

In fact, my whole day was like that. Gamblers was another one where I found a course that I thought was perfect for us and that I didn't see anyone else doing, and the gamble was a give-away with weaves. BUT. Again the handling thing. I've been releasing Tika instantly on her contacts all weekend, trying to go for the higher placements, and at one key point, I needed her to flip left from the Aframe into a tunnel, which she's usually a star at. But I didn't think about all those early releases all weekend, and she went straight out from teh Aframe over a jump before coming back, which I'm guessing was a 3-second detour. Now I really raced, because I knew I'd have to adjust the end of my course, which was supposed to end on the teeter before the gamble, but I hadn't walked the ending that I was creating on the fly. The whistle blew just as I was getting to the new turn that I had to make, too far from the gamble, and I muffed it so that Tika turned back to me and barked, and then she headed out correctly, did the gamble perfectly--and was over time by 3/10 of one second. My seething frustration was boiling over. What's worse, I was right about our course--our opening points were good enough for 2nd of about 30 dogs if we had done the gamble on time.

(In case you hadn't noticed, this is where the whining comes in.)

Meanwhile, the rain just never let up. It was pouring so that we could justify shutting the rings down, it was simply maddeningly drearily raining. Early in the day, everyone had rain gear and hats, but by the end of the day I could see that everyone, like me, had given up--no hats, dripping hair and clothes, soaked through to the skin everywhere except possibly my tummy. My course maps turned to mush in my pockets. I had several species of fungi growing between my toes and evolving into advanced lifeforms. Wet wet wet.

Tika had a awesome standard run--I'm enjoying really driving her through courses--but found out afterwards that she had 5 faults. Since she did hit and stick all her contacts and we had no bobbles or bars, it must have been that danged up on the dogwalk again.

And in Snooker I forgot where I was going during the closing at #5. With the bobble and taking an extra obstacle and then getting her away from barking at my feet and running off, we STILL had 6 seconds left, which would've been more than plenty of time to finish a 2nd-place Super-Q. Crap crap crap was my summary for my handling of Tika for the day.

On the other hand, she was such a joy to run at all times, fast even on the contacts at all times, even in this big crowd of high-ranking competitors. She has matured so nicely and I come off the course with quite a high, working this dog.

I think Boost will be even faster. It seems to me from watching that she is faster than any of her 3 siblings competing up here--Derby, Beck, and even Bette, although I think that Bette is pretty darned close. None of them are slouches by any means, and Derby's pretty close and handled by a good trainer and competitor. But I keep thinking--if they were blasting around courses at Boost's speed, Derby & Beck wouldn't be in Masters already. Maybe I'm just making excuses for being a poorer handler than the others. But I sure give Mary credit with Bette--for all of the unfamiliar challenge of a very fast, driven dog, Bette managed to qualify in all four Advanced runs on Saturday, and Boost in none. But I felt smoother than the previous days, AND she did several sets of weaves beautifully, including two in the Steeplechase--although she ran past them the first time, when I got her lined up, she did them all the way through perfectly, and the second time through nailed them on the first try, but then later ran past a serpentiney jump and by then I knew we weren't making time anyway so didn't go back for it, Eing out.

But she also is such a high to run with on course. I love seeing her working, and the last class where I just aimed her at the weaves at an angle and she blasted ahead of me and made the entry perfectly and zoomed through and then when I caught up to her and turned her back for more points, she did them again perfectly, and I felt like flying.

Yeah, the usual ups and downs, I suppose.

The rain let up long enough to load all my sopping-wet gear into my car, and then it broke into a downpour, so it was tough even to stay dry going into the restroom with dry clothes to change into for the ride home, but I managed it, so I took Tika's five Qs and one placement and Boost's one Q and 2 placements--out of 34 runs-- and we were home about 9:30 p.m.

Had no trouble falling asleep and sleeping through again.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Happy Birthdays

SUMMARY: Lots of Finch agility birthdays. Celebrate with the flu.

Yesterday Boost turned 2 and I turned mumble hack hack cough. Sorry, that was the flu choking me up for a minute. Had a lingering cold for the last 2 weeks that finally seemed to be almost gone by the end of the weekend, then monday evening felt overly tired & sore & was approaching miserable by wake-up Tuesday. Abandoned computer almost entirely tuesday afternoon and went back to bed, something I almost never do--working from home, I can sit for a while then rest, etc. But nooooo.

Got my flu shot this year, too, back in Oct. They say it would be worse if I hadn't.

A little bit of a fever tuesday but not much. The three worst parts: (1)No energy, just want to lie down. Can only watch TV. What kind of hell is that? (2) Coughing, blowing nose, coughing coughing coughing. Yesterdayevening stomach muscles and between shoulder blades were getting to that sore place where you desperately want to cough to clear your breathing and desperately want not to because it hurts. Better today, so coughing must have slacked off some, but hard to tell otherwise. At the moment (3) worst part is excruciating pain moving through my joints which is not fever-like at all. Trying to decide whether to go see the doctor. Tuesday night shoulders hurt so bad could barely move arms. Wednesday moved into my knees and last night into my fingers. This morning could barely walk & it hurt, although that has eased some. Right now hands so bad can't wash w/out pain, can't grip anything. But--it's a miracle--or a curse--I can type some until I'm so exhausted from being exhausted that I have to go lie down again.

Don't want to miss this weekend's next chance at Tika's super-Q because my next chance isn't for another 6 weeks, and would just be so nice to finish before Tika's 6th birthday, which is the 14th of February. Plus this weekend has Grand Prix and Steeplechase and--since I've been obsessing about those--don't want to miss them.

But at the moment the thought of trying to do ANYTHING makes me want to crawl right back into bed. Bleaaaaahhhhh--- need to be better before tomorrow afternoon so I have the energy to pack the car.

Dogs are going nuts. Thank goodness the renter-housemate plays with them a little daily.

And now--back to lie-down state.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tika's Masters Qualification Record

SUMMARY: Some statistics on Tika's qualifying and nonqualifying masters runs.

I keep all of my competition info in a database, and I can pull it out in various ways if I think it'll help me to understand where we need work. Here's a very simple list of nonqualifying (N), qualifying (Q), and Super-Q (S) runs in the various events. To read it, start at the top and go left to right.

For example, in Masters Relay (below right), our first run was a Q, followed by 4 nonqualifying runs, two qualifying runs, 5 nonqualifying runs, and so on.

This shows me that we've improved tremendously in Gamblers, have a real problem in Standard (and Snooker Super-Qs), and have made inroads into Jumpers. Then I could look at the detailed records to see what has been causing our NQs (which I've already done, over and over :-) ); might be interesting on this chart to also list "E" (elimination usually for off-course) NQs separately from mere fault NQs (e.g., knocking a bar or a refusal at an obstacle).

Gamblers Jumpers
12NQ 12NQ
9NQ 6N2Q
N3Q 4N2Q
10NQ 4N2Q
2NQ 2N3Q
Grand PrixSteeplechase
2Q 4NQ
2NQ 2N2Q
2N2Q 2N

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