Tuesday, September 28, 2010
DOCNA Champs 2010
You gotta love DOCNA Champs-beautiful trial site, fun flowing courses, extremely well organized, great swag in the form of a nice dog First Aid kit in your goodie bag, 2 t-shirts (not that I need more t-shirts but still), relaxed atmosphere, even excellent healthy good quality food from the on-site food vendor. The organizers and host club go all out for this event.
As far as our runs went I was hoping things would go better than they did in that I was sure we'd get at least one or two nice clean, tight runs, especially in Jumpers. Oddly enough I think Jumpers was our worst result, I think we came in DFL. We had uncharacteristic off courses in both runs as well as some bars and the frustrating thing is that they were easy courses. Not too sure what was going on and it's not evident from the videos either. Handling at the Speed of Strummer has to be so precise I guess is maybe the issue. Also he still needs me to support the obstacles/jumps a lot more than I'm used to with the other dogs, especially when they're as far apart as they are in DOCNA.
On the plus side his weaves were awesome. We had only two missed entries over the 4 days and they were both handling mistakes. He popped out once as well after getting the most tricky weave entry of the weekend and I'm not sure why. SO happy that he's finally getting it though.
Contacts were another problem for us, in particular those 180 degree flips to tunnels and tunnel/contact discriminations that I've been practicing so diligently. Those stupid flips cost us 2 off courses and 2 missed contacts. I was disappointed that all our training in that respect didn't pay off more but we'll keep plugging away at it. He'll get it eventually I'm sure. One thing I don't like about DOCNA courses is the overuse of this handling challenge. You see it several times for sure at every trial.
Bars were also an issue. Let's just say we kept those pole setters busy. A whopping 4 bars came down in the warm-up Jumpers run on Thursday and I'll admit that it rattled me and drove some handling choices over the course of the trial.
My handling was o.k., I felt calm and didn't rush around all crazy. I had a couple wild flinging arm swings that sent him away to the hinterlands but otherwise I think I did o.k. with controlling the crazy arms. Those darn dogwalk/tunnel flips caused me to get behind and forced me into some rear crosses on the flat that I normally would not do. I did a lot more rear crosses in general than I normally do and this was partly to guard against dropped bars because it seemed like unless I was really far ahead on a front cross those bars were coming down. The good news is that he read all the rears well. I still don't like to abuse them though, especially those rears on the flat. They're handy in very limited cases but I think doing them all the time is asking for trouble.
Strum's behavior around the rings was good. No crazy lunging or screaming, was relatively calm walking into the rings. He was excited of course, more so by the warm-up area which had weaves and a teeter in addition to some jumps, probably because the rings had snow fencing and the warm-up area did not. One of my former classmates came up and reminded me of how I had to sit with him in the equipment trailer during classes because he was so overexcited and look how far he's come.
Courses in general flowed well but I thought they were mostly too easy for a Championship event. Seems like courses at Champs 2 years ago were more challenging. It's not to say we didn't have a lot of mistakes but the course we did the best on was the most technical of the Standard courses (Saturday's Standard Round 2 shown in the post below) where our only fault was one knocked bar. In general I wish DOCNA would have a bit more challenge and variety to their courses. Contact/tunnel flips and wraps/serpentines get boring when you see them over and over every single trial. I do like the open and flowing nature of the courses though, great for the dogs.
The only other issue with the trial was the scribing/posting of scores. DOCNA (and I think NADAC) uses scribe sheets with as many teams as will fit on a sheet rather than a single small sheet per team so you have to be very careful to put the correct score/time with the correct team when you're scribing. It's very easy to make a mistake and puts faults or the incorrect time on the wrong line, I've done it before. I catch it when I do it but some people don't always and I have a friend who should have placed in the NAC 2 years ago but didn't because her score was transposed with an obviously much slower dog. It was obvious what had happened but she didn't catch the error until they read of the results at the ribbon presentation and by then it was too late. She hasn't been back to a DOCNA Champs since. I usually check the sheet over the scribe's shoulder when I know I have a clean run because I've caught errors before and had them fixed because I caught it right away. Trouble is at Champs they try to keep the scores a secret so the winners are a surprise at the ribbon presentations. I had a chat with the organizer about it first thing Friday morning and he agreed to allow us to check our scores and sure enough a few hours later a group of people had issues with some scribing mistakes. He made an announcement that we should be able to check our scores but a scribe gave me some hassle about it when I tried later in the day. I was insistent and she backed down but still it was a pain because she'd already moved onto the next sheet and I had to hold the other sheet over her hand to see my score while she was trying to scribe. I think they should have ringside monitors showing the scores like they do now in USDAA so you can easily check without hassling the scribe. I know it takes away from the drama of the ribbon presentation but I think accurate scoring is more important.
In other news I got stung by a wasp and I had only just discussed getting an epi-pen with my doctor a few days earlier but I hadn't received it yet. I wondered if I would go into anaphylactic shock and start having seizures during my Standard run thus providing a classic You Tube moment but thankfully all I ended up with was a swollen and itchy arm. I think the little bastard didn't get a whole shot of venom in before I swatted him away. Four days later and still it's all I can do not to scratch the stupid thing but the swelling's gone down and I think I'll live. Still getting the epi-pen though. I hate the thought of my airways possibly swelling shut while I'm in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception on my mountain bike.
Overall our results don't look so good on paper but he was such a good boy and tried so very hard. There were a lot of nice things that happened out there and he's only just moved up to Specialist (Masters). He certainly was having fun out there and best of all there was a hose for playing in after his runs. Things got noticeably better each day and by the last day we finally had a perfect run (ie no bars, missed contacts, etc.) in the Strategic Time Gamble opening. The closing went a bit willy nilly as I lost track of my plan after the buzzer went off but otherwise finally a nice run. Just in time to go home.
Our only placements were 3rd place in the Strategic Time Gamble and our awesome Trigility team placed 3rd in the large 20" division despite a missed contact by Strummer.
Obligatory cheesy photo with our one pathetic ribbon. Wasn't I wearing that same shirt in my triathlon podium photo? I do have more than one shirt I promise, maybe this one's lucky or something.
They hadn't given out ribbons for the Time Gamble yet when we took the photo and I hadn't realized we'd earned a placement. In fact I left right after my run first thing in the morning and missed all the Finals because it was looking to be such a hot day after a long weekend of hot days and I couldn't make Jonny help me unpack the car and set-up all the crates and EZ up so he and the 3 dogs could sit around for hours in the hot blazing sun. There was no security at the site so each night we tore everything down and hauled it back to the car then had to set it all up again early the next morning and by Sunday I was in tears at the mere thought of hauling all the crap out again.
Jonny shot video of all our runs except Traditional Gamblers which was an amusing one to miss because Strummer nearly took me out at the Gamble. I knew I shouldn't have attempted a gamble that had a layered jump. It's an 80's-stravaganza with the music, don't know why, guess I was in a mood.
Warm-up trial: Specialist Standard and Jumpers
DOCNA CHAMPS 2010 THURSDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.
Specialist Snakes-n-Ladders, Standard, Jumpers
DOCNA CHAMPS 2010 FRIDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.
Specialist North America Challenge (like Grand Prix in USDAA), Standard, Jumpers
DOCNA CHAMPS 2010-SATURDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.
DOCNA CHAMPS 2010-SATURDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.
Specialist Strategic Time Gamble and Strummer only Trigility
DOCNA CHAMPS 2010-Sunday & Trigility (Strummer only) from colliebrains on Vimeo.
All Specialist course maps are in the post below this one.
Overall it was fun times, hopefully we'll be able to come back next year.