Friday, January 04, 2008

A Good Day At Agility Is Better Than A Bad Day At Work

Today was Day 1 of a 3 day USDAA trial. I'd decided not to enter Team so I had only 2 runs today-Master Standard and Speed Jumping. Lola's had no practice since Nationals in early Nov. and Cody's had not much more than her since the practice field and my yard have been snowed in for the last 2 months so I figured this would be interesting. I wanted to use some of the handling I'd learned from Stacy's workshop as well as stay focused on what I was doing, being consistent, giving early cues, etc. Utterly obvious things but nonetheless things that seem to fly out of my head in the heat of the moment all too easily.

Lola was up first in Standard and of course she knew nothing of the cues I'd worked on at Stacy's because I'd taken Cody & left her home but they rely so much on the dog's natural response to body language that she picked it up right away and had a really nice run despite loads of tricky traps. She missed her dogwalk up contact, something I did see coming because the dogwalk was after the tunnel with very little space in between for the dog to collect. I hung back at the tunnel entrance and tried to get her to slow & break her stride a bit but she's simply too huge and the striding would have been so unnatural for her so I couldn't be too upset about that. She also missed a weave entry and I let it go, the ring is not the place to work on that esp. with a soft dog. She had no off courses though and a the biggest victory of all? A perfect, fast, happy, tail wagging down on the table near the end of the course. If I'd had my head together I would have left right there to reward her but as it was there were only a few obstacles left anyway so I carried on to the end.

The Speed Jumping course was a speed course with not much handling to speak of so I knew there would be many clean runs and I'd have to push for speed if I wanted a Q. There were 2 sets of weaves which isn't a great scenario for either dog. They have decent speed in the weaves but there's too much potential for missed entries or popping out and the only bit of tricky handling involved the weave entrance. Lo did miss the entry but didn't go too far and I popped her back in fairly quickly. The rest of the run was wonderful though and she did get the second set of poles no problem. She ended up in 6th place with a Q and we get to run in the finals tomorrow. Lo now has all the tournament Q's she needs for her champ. title and she's qualified for Regionals in Speed Jumping. All she needs now for Regionals is a Grand Prix Q and we'll give it a try tomorrow.

Cody's Standard run went less well on my part. I was late with a cue right off the bat causing a poor angle to the teeter and a missed up contact on the teeter. I don't think I've ever had that call with either dog. Later in the course I botched a front cross and caused an off course. The good news though is that Cody did awesome-hit all his contacts and weaves, beautiful down on the table, fast, focused & happy in general. I'm afraid I'm the one that's suffered the most from lack of practice.

Speed Jumping was awesome, I couldn't have asked for any more from him. I wish I had it on video so I could see if we had any wide turns but it didn't feel like any of them were too bad and the run felt really good. He ended up in 2nd place and also got a Q and a spot in the finals. He's now got all the Q's he needs for Regionals, phew. Not bad for a 9 1/2 year old. I'm trying to savor every run I have with him these days because you never know with an old dog. One day they're running around full tilt and the next, well, who knows. This may very well be his last year but we'll see. As long as he's fit & healthy we'll keep running.

I was finished with my runs by 11:30 so I decided to go into work, partly so I wouldn't waste a full vacation day and partly because I have a couple tight deadlines coming up. On the one hand it was good that I went in because I got some stuff done that will make next week not so crazy but on the other hand I found out I need to go to Winter Park for an all day site visit next week which will put me behind schedule again and also not be very fun because it's so cold & snowy up in the mountains just now. I can't even take advantage of the skiing unless I want to drive home in the dark and it's not worth it. I could have lived without finding this out today and enjoyed the weekend in blissful ignorance but it was good I got some work done.

My foot's been o.k. for the past few days because I've been laying off it but today the walking around was too much, even for just half a day, and it was throbbing in pain on the drive home. Of course it's my right foot so every push on the accelerator sent pain shooting through. I have an appointment with the podiatrist in a few weeks and I'm hoping he'll have some conservative treatment options that don't involve surgery but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime I'm hoping lots of Vitamin I and ice will get me through the weekend. I signed up to work the scoretable but somehow I've ended up with Jump Setting assignments which is better than leash running but not as good as sitting on my ass the whole time type jobs. Must remember to use the ice pack after my runs. I brought it today and forgot all about it until the pain hit, doh.


  1. Congratulations on the all-around successful agility day. Doncha just love seeing happy tail-wagging tables. :-)

    I didn't know that in USDAA dogs have to qualify to enter Regionals. In AAC (Canada) my understanding is it's up the host club if they want to set some kind of prereqs, otherwise any dog with an AAC # can go. Having to qualify for Regionals makes sense though... not only to keep the numbers of participants from gettting out of hand, but also as a handler to have something to work towards to earn the opportunity to go.

    Good luck tomorrow/today and I hope your foot doesn't cause too much more grief...

  2. Qualifying for Regionals is pretty easy, you need only one Q in the Grand Prix and Steeplechase/Speed Jumping and you can Q in Grand Prix with 5 faults (knocked bar, refusal, missed contact, etc.). Anyone can enter the Team event at Regionals which is the bulk of the runs.

    I think the main reason they require the Q is not to cut down on numbers but rather because if you win in the final round you get a bye into the finals at Nationals. Also, if you're in the top 50% (or something like that) you get a bye in the semi's. However you need 2 Q's to qualify for Nationals so you need to have the one Q before entering Regionals so that whoever wins is indeed qualified for Nationals.