Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blister in the Sun

I'm an utter freak about doggie heat stroke so when I saw the forecast for temps. in the triple digits on Sunday I was on the verge of pulling the dogs from the NADAC trial I'd entered. In the end I talked myself into going, at least for the morning runs since Elite runs first and it wouldn't be too bad at 8:00 a.m. I figured I'd stay until it got horrible then leave and maybe come back for Lo's afternoon Tunnelers runs since she needs only one Q to qualify for Nationals and we'd have 2 chances.

Jumpers was first thing and it was already hot, maybe in the 80's with no breeze and full sun. Lo had a lovely clean run with no mistakes or refusals but was .28 seconds over time (huh??!!). She was going slower than normal because of the heat (and I wasn't pushing her) but she was hardly pokey. Course times are brutal in Elite Jumpers for the big dogs and I think it's the reason there are so few dogs left at the Elite level in NADAC. The Novice class was the size of Open & Elite combined, maybe bigger. NADAC's a great place to start a young dog but I think by the time you get to Open or Elite you're so fed up with the constant rule changes and ridiculous course times that you find somewhere else to play if you can. I'm an idiot so I've stuck around. Anyway, Cody somehow managed to knock a bar in his Jumpers class even though they were only 16" high as I was experimenting in entering him in vets. He jumps 22" in USDAA and rarely knocks bars so I don't know what happened. Otherwise a nice run and he seemed thrilled to be out there. I discovered he goes crazy playing in the hose so I was able to get him soaked and wound up before our run. I did this all day and it worked great. Finally something other than food to motivate him!

Chances (NADAC's mutated version of Gamblers) was way too difficult for both dogs, I just don't practice that kind of distance work but they were running great and having fun so I decided to stay for their standard runs.

Standard started at 11:00 a.m. or so and by that time it was in the high 90's but it's a dry heat, way different from the nightmarish humidity I'm used to in Chicago. I figured the dogs should be o.k. running for 40 seconds in the heat and they were. Lo had a Q and third place in one run and the other was beautiful but the stinker blew her dogwalk contact at the very end for the brazillionth time. Cody did the same darn thing in his run too (and blew the A-frame contact in his other run). ARGGH!!! Of course last night at class he was perfect, wowing all the novice students with his lovely contacts. I guess I should be glad he was excited and hyped up enough to blow a contact in that horrible heat but still it was frustrating.

I had to wait around 3 hours for Tunnelers and if it wasn't for wanting to get that last Q for Lola to get into Championships I probably would have called it a day. By the time Tunnelers started it was 100 degrees and to add insult to injury they were having Tunnelers as a 'Double Shot' which means you run the course, go through a couple of Tunnels that bring you back to the start and do it again with no break. 22 tunnels in a row in 100 degree heat is something to experience but next time I'm insisting they have defibrilators at the ready. Cody went first in Elite and managed to Q and get 4th place in both runs thus earning his Elite Tunnelers title. I was a little concerned about the course for Lola since there were 2 tunnels parallel to each other and she had to come out of one and turn 180 degrees into the other. Trouble was there was a tunnel staring her right in the face when she came out of the first tunnel, beckoning her to be sucked inside and she'd be committed to that tunnel way before she came out and saw me indicating the turn to the other. We've had trouble with this exact scenario before. I call to her while she's in the tunnel but it often doesn't help. Well, we pulled it off, she had a huge wide turn as she headed for the wrong tunnel but she pulled of it and came to me. You'd think on the second time through she'd know where she was going but it was no matter, she still turned wide. But it was fast enough to make Open course time (and Elite course time at that) so she got 2 Q's and first places and has a spot in Tunnelers at Championships so I was pretty happy!

There was only one dog that suffered heat stroke at the trial, a little Papillon that belonged to an instructor and very savvy dog person who was doing all the right things to keep her cool. The dog was rushed to the vet and is now o.k. but it just goes to show how serious the heat is for dogs even if you're being careful.

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