I had fun at the USDAA trial this weekend, Cody & Lola's first trial since DOCNA Champs. at the start of October. They didn't have much practice, maybe 3-4 sessions in the past 3 months but I don't want to work either of them all that much anymore because of their ages. Cody is 10 1/2 and Lola turned 8 last month. Hard to think of either of them as vet dogs.
The main thing I was hoping for this weekend was for Cody to finish his Perf. ADCH with a Super Q in Snooker and a Standard Q. I wish I had some great story to tell full of drama about how he pulled it all off despite the issues he's been having with the table . The reality though is that he had a beautiful Standard run going on Saturday, jumped on the table then jumped right off and ran into a tunnel, which was a nice thought and the correct obstacle if only he'd bothered to do the table first. I did get him to lie down and we immediately left the ring where I made up for all the celebrating I did not do on New Year's Eve. On Sunday he once again had a beautiful Standard run going and did in fact lie down on the table and hold it for what seemed like 9 million years and I was SO sure we had it but then the stinker blew the dogwalk contact. The dogwalk was heading into a wall which may have been part of the problem but with Cody who can tell. After that I was a bit distracted and late with a front cross causing an off course. Snooker was a perfect course for Cody, a tunnel/jump combo for the 7 and an obvious easy, flowy course for getting all three 7's. The unfortunate thing is that there is no strategy involved, only speed but I thought we still had a chance if I got some tight turns and pushed for speed. Also the pressure was off since he'd already blown his Standard runs. He could still pick up his Snooker title (and the next Snooker title too I think) but I didn't care all that much about it. In the end it didn't matter because after the third red I told him 'here' (7 point obstacle) and he went 'there' (2 point obstacle) and the whistle didn't go right away because I still could have saved it if I'd brought him back to start the closing (no Super Q of course) but as I stood there going, 'Duh uh which way do I go?' he decided the nearby #3 tunnel looked nice and who cares where the judge wanted me to go, I am so Punk Rock. So that was that.
I've decided to retire him from USDAA because when he was lying down on the table today his rear legs were trembling. I've noticed this in training the table at home, it comes and goes and sometimes is a lot of trembling, sometimes very little or none at all. It's the first time it's been that bad in a trial and I don't want to ask him to go through that again. I don't know what it's about whether a weakness in his rear legs or more likely something up with his back and I doubt it's painful but I can't ask him to do something that might bring it on. Every trial I watch him carefully and look for signs from him that it's time to stop trialing and today felt like he was telling me loud and clear. I'll still run him in DOCNA where there is no table and he can jump 16" because otherwise he looked great this weekend, perfect weaves, confident on the contacts, nice jumping, no stress. But no more USDAA. Yeah it's disappointing not to get the big bad title but it felt good to get so close and I can hardly be disappointed overall with his agility career. He's the first dog I ever seriously trained for anything and he was not the easiest first dog ever but he taught me so much and each little milestone along the way felt so huge and satisfying. Those last 2 missing Q's seem so insignificant in the face of how far he came.
As for Lola, she had a mostly fabulous weekend. She and her Pairs partner had lovely clean runs and took first place finishing up her Pairs title (yay! no more pairs!!!). She also picked up another Snooker Q with a wonderful run. She almost had her first Masters Standard Q on Saturday with a beautiful run but she missed the dogwalk contact. I even got her to lie down on the table and I'll write more about that later when I'm not so tired. Thanks for the table suggestions in the comments below, BTW. Today's Standard run started with her running circles around the table and refusing to get on. I got her on and got her down but she got up after 3 seconds and I decided that was enough of that torture. We were both a bit rattled after that and the run went downhill from there. And yes, she blew another dogwalk contact. Darn it, she was near perfect for 4 days at DOCNA Champs. Argh. But overall she was a dream to run this weekend, my timing with her was good and she was happy and full of herself.
I experimented a bit with running the various courses different ways with the different dogs, using a rear cross for Cody and a front for Lola. Both places that I tried to force a front with Lola did not work out so great. I pulled them off but I was way late. Hard to say if the rears would have been any better with her or if the fronts would have been better if I hadn't been so late. It was fun to play around with it though.
The one really bad part of the weekend was my knee. It was sore Saturday night despite icing it twice. Tonight I can't straighten it. I will spare you the moaning about the pain. I even broke down and took some Vitamin I. Was eyeing up the leftover Vicodyn but decided I'd rather suffer (cue violins). I'll stay off it as much as I can tomorrow and ice it a bunch and hopefully will be back to dog walking duties on Tuesday. Getting old is a blast.