Monday, August 25, 2008

All's fair in love and Super Q's

I got up at 4 am yesterday morning to drive up to Laramie, WY for a USDAA trial. I decided to sign up for only one day for a variety of reasons and I'm glad I did because when we got there the dogs were full of beans and eager to go. I had fast, happy, motivated, non-stressed dogs all day and Cody was even pulling me into the ring! Cody needed 2 snooker Super Q's, a pairs leg and a standard leg for his Perf. ADCH title. I don't care all that much about masters titles, the earlier levels are fun to get because it means you get to move up a level but once you're in masters there's no where to go and the piece of paper I get in the mail doesn't mean all that much to me. Except for the big champ. title for Cody, that one would be special. Part of me always had this dumb stubborn faith that we would get it eventually and another part of me thought, 'Yeah, you just keep reaching for the stars miss little engine that could girl and give me a call when you finally snap out of it and come down to earth'. As 10 year old Cody gets closer to retirement the title has meant less and less to me and the focus has been on enjoying each run as much as possible because who knows how many he has left. And he's come so far, way farther than the doubter in me thought he ever would so if we're a few legs short of the big fancy ribbon what's the big deal? Still, if he gets the big fancy ribbon I promise you there will be tears. And I'm not a crier, especially not over a stupid slip of satin and a piece of paper.

We were entered in pairs, standard and snooker so we had a chance to make a little dent in what little is left. I hate pairs, what a stupid concept for an agility class, so I was thrilled to pieces when both dogs had beautiful clean runs and their teams Q'ed. No more pairs for Cody and Lola needs only one more Q, yeeha. Part of the reason I hate it is that there are so few teams that it's always a rush for me, I have to hurry one dog into the crate then scramble back to the line with the other dog. Warm-ups are always a challenge. We had only one team between this time but thankfully both the judge and the gate steward were nice about it and told me to catch my breath and go when I was ready. It's also a hassle to find partners and you have to negotiate what part of the course you're going to run plus feeling extra specially bad about it if you screw up. But after thinking about it I realized I've met quite a few people I probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for pairs relay and team so maybe it's not all too terribly bad. Still, I'm so glad to have only one dog left to run in it, it will be so much easier.

Standard did not go well for either dog. I mishandled the course early on for both dogs (will have to set that part up and practice it) and had off courses so I thought I'd take the opportunity to leave the ring early to reward the table if things went well. Cody flat out refused to lay down and eventually I excused ourselves from the ring and put him in his crate with no celebration and just a few bits treats. I felt terrible about it but was unsure what else to do. Lola also refused to lay down and had a barking fit at me, got off the table and tried to continue on the course but I wouldn't let her. Finally she laid down and I rushed her out of the ring for a big party and treats. Not sure what the problem was today, it was an indoor trial, not hot, judge was standing miles away and the table was in the quietest, farthest corner of the ring from the ring gates and bleachers. I was working with Lola on her down out in the field today and got a few insights into the problem but I'll write about that in a separate post. On the plus side both dogs hit all their A-frame contacts. We never got to the dogwalk in standard. In fact the table was obstacle 10 or so so we didn't get to do the other challenging parts of the course which was a shame but oh well.

Finally it was time for Snooker. I was a bit dismayed when I saw the course map-the weave poles were the 7 point obstacle. Why do judges do that so frequently? Plus the reds were set up perfectly for three 7's and not for much else. I'll try to post a course map tomorrow. I couldn't see making Cody do 4 sets of weaves. And what was the chance he would pop out or miss at least one entry? But Snooker is all about strategy right? So I took a look at the gate sheet and realised that there was only one dog, a fast BC, with faster weaves than Cody, all the other dogs probably would do only one set of weaves if they did them at all. Also there were 2 Super Q's up for grabs so even if the faster dog did multiple sets we still had a shot at the second Q. So I settled on doing one set of weaves for 7 points and the number 6 obstacle was a single jump so we'd do that twice and head for the closing. We had the option to do 4 reds but it would have been cutting it close and opened up the chance for more errors and I didn't think I needed it. I doubted any of the other dogs except maybe the fast BC would go for all 4 reds because that 4th one was so far out of the way and if I was worried about time certainly they would be too.

Cody was the first dog on the line of the entire Snooker class so I couldn't change my plan or see how the course would run, we had to step up to the line and go for it. And it was a fabulous run, everything went according to plan, turns weren't too loopy wide (though there's always room for improvement), Cody hit those weaves and plowed right through to the end in both the opening and closing. I sprinted to the finish and made sure to bring him with me. I couldn't watch the class because I had to get Lola out and warmed up but I heard the fast BC going for the 4 reds but got hit by the buzzer before he finished the number 7 weaves. The crowd groaned in sympathy but I actually heard myself utter a 'Yes!' then felt instantly bad. I HATE how snooker pits you up against other people. I HATE feeling good about other people screwing up. Anyway, I knew Cody had a good shot at the SQ so I decided to do three 6's with Lola so she wouldn't steal it from him just in case someone else managed to beat him and why make her do a set of weaves when she doesn't need the extra points for a regular Q (she has all her SQ's)? I never walked this though so I had to make it up on the fly but the opening went well and it wasn't until the closing that I lost her. I was a bit too wound up and sprinted far ahead of her to start the closing and she sneaked behind me to take an off course jump. Still, it was a nice run up to that point and she was running her buns off and having a blast. In the end Cody got 1st place by 4 seconds and was 12 seconds under course time. One more Super Q and one more Standard Q is all he needs now. Funny to think that mathematically he could do it in one trial. Now if only we can get his table fixed.


  1. I'm with you on the pairs: Stupid class but great way to get to meet other people and put a face with the names.

    Woo-hoo on the Super-Q! I've discovered that I prefer going very early in the order because then I'm just running the run that I planned and not stressing over trying to do something extra or stressing about how if I don't mess up I'll get the super-Q (which always makes me mess up). And you did the right thing, which is plan a course for your dog's strengths and sooner or later you'll get those super-Qs. Like this last weekend, 126 big dogs including perf & ch, and I heard at least 2 people saying they need super-Qs so they have to try for all those 7s (teeter-jump-jump) even though their dog's not good at it, and in the end not one dog got all the way through going for 3 7s, not even one. So dogs with 48-50 points (maybe less, I didn't notice all) were picking up super-Qs. Anyway, you did the right thing and it paid off! Woo hoo!

  2. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Congratulations on your Super-Q and other Qs. I'm sure you weren't so much rooting *against* anyone--just happy that you won. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!

    I actually like Pairs. I don't feel any pressure to Q for the other team because I don't ever expect them to Q for me. And I've met a lot of really nice people that way.

    Good luck with the other two Qs you need for the Cody's ADCH, we'll be rooting for you!

  3. Thanks, we'll see if we can pull it off before it's time for him to hit the couch in USDAA.

  4. Congrats on the Super Q!

    I actually like Pairs, mostly because when things aren't going well, it gives me a chance to succeed--you only have to keep it together for half a course! Of course, that only works if you decide not to give a fig whether your partner holds it together for her half ...

    But also, I like that it's made me meet new people. And also, once I turned a corner as a handler and Lucy and I started doing pretty well, people started coming up and asking me to pair with them at future trials, which really gave me a much-needed confidence boost ;-) So I guess I have selfish reasons to be glad Pairs exists.

  5. I supposed pairs is good for an older dog too, he only has to do half a course.

    I can't say as I've had all that many people rushing up to be my pairs partner :-) I'm usually bugging other people to pair with me and that's the part I like the least, spending the time to line up partners for 2 dogs in the same class. But Cody's pairs partner from this weekend offered to pay Cody's pairs entry to pair up with her other dog in the future so I guess we're not all that terrible though I think she was just desperate because she also has 2 dogs in the same class and it's hard to get partners.

  6. Congrats on your Super Q!