Saturday at 5:30 a.m. I had another one of those moments where I marveled over the weird and unlikely course my life has taken as I inspected an unusually foul smelling pile of poop to see is it liquid or solid or what. I think poor Jonny must have been having similar thoughts at 2:30 a.m. when he was up cooking rice for her. Rice is Jonny's cure all for all things runny and stinky. No, I did not suggest he cook rice for her at such an unspeakable hour and in fact I lost an hour's sleep or so because the kitchen is right across the hall from the bedroom which does not have a closeable door thanks to Strummer's crate. I gave Lola a marrow bone on Wednesday knowing full well that the consequences might not be happy but I figured whatever the outcome, so to speak, she'd be fine by trial morning. Unfortunately her stomach was not running on my schedule. Fortunately whatever gymnastics her stomach and associated digestive tubes were going through did not effect her mood or performance but of course it added some worry to my day.
We had a nice cloudy, cool weekend, a bit of drizzle and light rain on Sunday but not while I was running any classes. Perfect weather for dogs running and jumping and carrying on, especially if your name is Lola. Throw on some fleece and Gore-tex and it's no problem but I heard a lot of grousing. Me, I'll take that kind of weather any day for agility.
Lola only ran 2 runs per day and we were done by just past noon both days which was perfect. I think I see a lot of half days in my agility future. Both of us had plenty of energy and enthusiasm for our runs and I didn't feel like I'd been run over by a truck when I woke up Monday morning. Well, no more so than usual anyway. No Q's to speak of but we had some fun out there and best news of the day was that she did her tables for both Standard runs no problemo. Next thing to work on is getting her to understand what releases her because she broke her stay both times on my motion which led to NQ's further down the course.
Saturday's Master Standard class was hilarious, it was so crazy there were no Q's in the entire Performance class, all heights, and only 1 for the entire 26"/22" Champ classes (31 dogs I think). I was scoring so I know. I think there were a couple more Q's for the wee Champ dogs but I didn't score them since I had to warm Lola up for her run. The course was deemed unsafe by some and there were a number of injuries caused by an unsafe teeter approach. One poor woman had driven 9 hours only to have her dog injured in the first class of the day so had to turn around and drive right back. I knew about the problem area and was careful handling Lola through it but there's no way I would have attempted that course with Strummer. I wish USDAA would be more strict about their course design requirements. There's no reason to have unsafe contact approaches, ever, there are plenty of other ways to challenge us. And that crazy course was full of them. I'll post it if I can find my course map.
Gamblers was easy peasy but somehow Lola wasn't for doing the gamble. I guess I'll have to do something drastic and start practising distance or something. Or maybe not. I don't practice much with her any more in hopes of keeping her sound. Snooker was a beautiful run until I forgot to redo the #2 obstacle in the closing after doing it for my last color in the opening. Doh. Standard run #2 was a more reasonable course and looked very do-able for Miss Lola but she broke her table stay when I moved after the table count and I couldn't quite pull off the front cross I was planning which led to some not so successful creative handling on the fly.
Below is the Masters Standard course map from Sunday which had some interesting challenges.
I handled the opening for Lola by leading out to just before jump #2 with her on my right and front crossing before the #3 tunnel. If I was running Strummer I'd lead out to between 2 & 3 and send him into the tunnel on my left but Lola doesn't know how to do that and she would have skipped both jumps and run right to me. I only watched some of the 12" and 16" Perf. class and some of the 22" & 26" Champ class (if you can call 1 dog in the 26" class a class) so I don't know how most of the big dog people handled the course. Of the people I did see quite a few started with their dog on their right and pulled to the #3 tunnel which typically worked o.k. except then they had to rush to get the front cross in between #3 and #4 and ended up blocking their dog a bit. Having your dog on your left as it entered the #3 tunnel was definitely an advantage.
I front crossed between #3 and #4 then did another front cross between #6 and #7 and pushed Lola over the #8 jump after the dogwalk. Some opted to stay on the left side of the dogwalk which sometimes led to an off course at the A-frame which is what I feared with Lola. Of those that stayed on the left, some fronted the dogwalk which is what I would have done while others did a rear/flip.
The course was set with the #10 jump in line with #9 and #11. The judge did this supposedly because of the wet grass conditions but I think there would have been a mutiny if there was yet another course with a bad entry to the teeter. I kept Lola on my left all the way to the table which was also more in line with the #12 tire than is indicated on the map. Quite a few people front crossed the #11 teeter and I'm not sure why. All that did was switch the dogs lead and draw them to the A-frame. Some dogs made a straight line for the table but some drifted toward the frame and had to be called back though I don't think I saw any actually take the frame.
My intention was to front cross the table so Lo would be on my left going over the A-frame then I'd rear between #14 and #15, front between #16 and #17, front again between #17 and #18 then keep her on my left through the chute since the #20 jump was actually set more in a straight line with the chute. Instead she broke her stay when I moved after the table count so I was forced to keep her on my right and push over the #15 jump and since I wasn't prepared for this I botched it and she went straight between the #15 and #16 jumps. Some people handled this way on purpose and it worked nicely for them.
Since I had a refusal and NQ anyway I decided I'd try a pull between #17 and #18 instead of my planned front cross just for laughs. This strategy worked for a lot of the small dogs but Miss Lo was committed to that tunnel before she took the #17 jump and there was no convincing her otherwise. That was a tricky section and I think a lot of Champ dogs fell victim to it since they had a triple and if you had a fast dog there was no way a front was happening. The one 26" dog handler with a super fast dog used a rear cross between #16 and #17 and it worked nicely but that didn't work for all handlers. If I had it to do again and I had to do the triple (no spreads in Perf. so Lola had a single jump) I think I'd try a rear. Definitely one to set up and practice with Strummer.