Monday, August 14, 2006

Master of Puppies

Had a USDAA trial outdoors in Brighton this weekend-beautiful site, lots of grass for the dogs to run off lead and a huge lake with trails around it and little 'beach' areas for swimming. Also, some mercifully decent weather on Saturday, maybe 80's but on and off cloud cover and breeze. Sunday was hot, humid (not Chicago humid but uncomfortable nonetheless) & no breeze for most of the day. Glad I left Cody at home. Lo was slower than normal but ran well.

Cody had no Q's but some really nice runs. I was hoping for a Q in the Grand Prix so he could go to Nationals and we almost made it through a really tough course, made it through most of the tricky parts and with just a few obstacles to go I screwed up and pulled him off a tunnel and onto the off course A-frame. It all happened in the blink of an eye and nothing I could do about it. But he ran beautifully and at the end he was jumping around all happy because he knew he'd done a great job so that made me happy. His Masters Standard run was another case of me pulling him off a jump at the last minute and causing a refusal and eventually an off course as I tried to correct his path. He had beautiful weaves, table and I think dog walk but bailed really badly from high up on the A-frame causing him to make an 'oomph' sound when he landed. I was not pleased, I don't want him hurting himself, never mind the Q. Gamblers was great, he listened to me perfectly in the opening but didn't get the gamble which surprised me since it seemed perfect for him. He's starting to watch me and respond more quickly to my cues which is great but I need to adjust my handling and not assume he'll just take whatever's in front of him anymore. I only ran him on Saturday so he got to stay home and sleep in with Jonny & Strummer on Sunday.

Miss Lola had her debut in Master Gamblers and Masters Snooker this weekend so I didn't have too many expectations. It usually takes us a trial or 2 (or 3 or 4) to get used to the new challenges when we move up a level. However the little rockstar Q'ed in 5 out 6 of her events this weekend, getting a Master Gamblers Q, her last advanced standard Q for her standard and versatility title (she's on all Masters now!), her second Masters Jumpers Q, a first place and Q in the Grand Prix (and another voucher for a bye into the finals of a Regional), AND a much coveted Super Q in Snooker. Typically the last Q's a person earns for their championship title are the Master Gamblers and Snooker Q's, in particular the Snooker Super Q of which you need 3. Super Q's are given to a top percentage of the class and it's a very small number. In my class only one was given out. There's a lot of strategy involved in Snooker and I seldom employ any of it. I go out there only to Q and to try to find the least jerky/most flowing way around the course but that won't do if I want a championship title and need to actually beat other people. Nonetheless, I had no visions of Super Q's dancing in my head for Lola's debut in Masters and though I picked the opening that had the max number of points I didn't have time to finish the closing. But I had a nice, relatively flowing course for Lola and happened to get lucky. There were several people who had the same number of points as us but we were fastest across the finish line so we got lucky. In the future I'll have to start thinking strategy a little more and actually time my courses to make sure I have enough time for the closing.

Lots of dogs crashed and burned in the Grand Prix. There were only 2 dogs in my class that weren't eliminated for off courses and Lola was the only one who Q'ed. She had a 5 fault refusal for popping out of the weaves but I had her redo them and we still finished under the allowed course time. Other than that she had a beautiful run, nice contacts and turns. Somehow it didn't feel right getting first place with a run with faults (you can qualify in the Grand Prix with up to 7 faults, next year that goes down to 5) but the only Regional left is in California over Labor Day weekend and I won't be going so the bye will go to waste anyway. If it wasn't for NADAC Championships a few weeks later I would really consider going but I committed to a team and there's no way I'd leave them high and dry at this point. But if I'd thought it through better ahead of time I'd rather go to the San Francisco Bay area (Sunnyvale) for a USDAA Regional than to Gillette (armpit), WY for NADAC Nationals. Oh well, something to think about for next year.

I was tired from being out in the sun all weekend but when I got home Sunday I squeezed in a run, a whopping 1.7 miles. Farthest I've gone so far and it was on tired legs. It felt like I'd gotten off the bike in a triathlon. Not the most enjoyable run but no serious aches or pains afterwards to speak of. Next week I'll have some steep hiking so I can see if my knee is ready for that trail race.

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