Monday, June 13, 2011

Another day, another trial

Not that I mean to come off blase about it or anything. :o) We had lots of fun down in Davenport again this past Saturday! Although I could *really* do without the whole getting up at 3:30 a.m. part. The dogs didn't care -- breakfast came early and they got to sleep the entire way there -- No skin off their noses! Thankfully it was a small trial and we got home around 7:45 p.m. We survived, and we (okay -- I) were happy to have a day of doing nothing yesterday.

As you can see, Secret had another successful trial! I was glad that I kept her in Open Regular, because she really does do better when she has a bit of time to settle in before her first run. Big dogs ran first at this trial, too, so had she been running Elite she would have been first on the line. Nope, I'm glad I kept her at Open. As a result, she put in two really nice runs and earned her Outstanding OAC title! First time I've put one of those on a dog....

Oh wait, I just realized that I'm completely mental. After a quick peak at the NADAC title chart, I just realized that you need 100 points in Regular for the Outstanding title. The 60 point requirement is for all the other classes. Well crap. I guess I take back the title. And now we have an unearned title ribbon (actually, two -- more about that later). Boo. Well, ignore that part in the video, I guess!

After two such stellar Regular rounds, I thought Secret had Touch-n-Go in the bag. A Q in that class would finish her Open Touch-n-Go title (like, for real this time, not the fake title I just discovered we didn't earn).

Cut to reality -- Secret totally FREAKED OUT at the judge. The judge was standing well inside the ring, next to the a-frame (the second obstacle on course). As soon as I took off her leash, Secret absolutely froze and fixated on the judge. I couldn't get her to acknowledge me for the release or anything. When she finally did start her run, she made her way to the a-frame barking and growling at the judge. Her entire mo-hawk was standing on end as she came over the a-frame. This behavior continued for the ENTIRE run, with Secret repeatedly whipping around to keep the judge in her sites. At one point I made a point to put in an unplanned cross just to keep myself between her and the judge. I so do not need an aggressive dog report on my record....

The run was an NQ for going off course and skipping a hoop (I wasn't going to correct ANYTHING on this run!), but I'm shocked that the judge didn't give us a big fat E for her behavior. When the class was completed, the judge did come find me to discuss the incident. She asked if this was normal behavior for Secret and I explained that no, she had never done anything like that before. She explained to me that if Secret behaved like that again she would be excused from the remainder of the trial (which would totally suck if one was doing both days, I suppose). I *completely* supported her on this and told her that I agreed 100%, and apologized profusely for Secret's behavior.

The judge stayed back against the wall for our next class, Novice Chances -- But I will admit that I was a little on edge and overly cautious about Secret's behavior. I did something stupid and took a step back during the send portion of the course, which caused Secret to cut in from a jump. I thought VERY briefly about trying to send her back out, but then I realized, "Hey dummy, you've never taught her that." lol So we just finished the course. I wrote a big fat NQ in her book -- So imagine my surprise as I was walking past the score table later in the day and saw the book open to Novice Chances. Kicking myself about my stupid handling error, I glanced down to confirm our NQ score. Q. What? How?

Normally -- Yes, normally -- I would go to the trial secretary about the error and inquire to have it fixed. I really hate to take things that aren't mine. That evil little greedy part of me won out, though. We *need* these Q's for Champs. We only have three days of trialing left to get them and Open Chances is going to be hard. So I took it. :o( It completes Secret's NCC title as well as her Novice Versatility Award. I hate it. I hate that I can't be proud of a title. It happened once with Kaiser in TDAA and I kept him in that class until he rightfully earned the Q. I'll make up for it with Secret -- Maybe I'll make her get an extra Open Q or something.

The last class of the day was Secret's first time in Elite Jumpers. I have to admit I'm kind of sad about this. I thought that as long as she stayed forward and we didn't have to make any corrections she would squeak in under time. Alas, she was 0.59 seconds over time. Obviously she was not going as fast as I know she is capable, but it was still disappointing.

Watching the video made me uncomfortable. I hate how she is jumping 20" when she is stressed. Her form is horrible and the landings look painful. I don't have any problem with how she jumps at home, but she is so tight & stressed at trials. I am okay with how she was moving in her two Regular rounds -- but she obviously started stressing at Touch-n-Go and never improved. Because of that, I've decided to move her back down to Skilled.

Now..... The hard part is whether or not to run her in any Elite classes (because points split at the Elite level) or if I should just start running her and see what happens. It may well be that I just keep her running at 16" -- although if that's the case, I'm pretty much wiping out my USDAA goals (she would be 22" in Performance). If I keep running her at Skilled, I can run her in Skilled at Champs, which I think she would enjoy more. There comes a point where it's hard to transition up to Proficient because you essentially "lose" your Skilled points. Alternatively, you can always transfer Prof. points down to Skilled.

Ultimately, I have to do what is best for her. And right now, that means jumping 16". I wish I could explain why I have an issue with Skilled. It is totally irrational! But I'm sure you'll understand when you see the Jumpers class.... (or even how she's jumping in Chances)


  1. I totally sympathize with your thoughts on skilled vs proficient. My 21'' BC mix, Zoe, is now in elite regular and we have trouble making time. I was previously running her in skilled at 16'' and moving her up to preferred means less time for being in elite AND less time for being a 20'' dog. We are consistently 2-3 seconds over time...sometimes a fraction of a second over. frustrating!

    Zoe is a decent jumper and she jumps 20'' in CPE, but it certainly slows her down. She has made elite times twice, but just under time. Perhaps with more training and confidence, her speed will improve, but I have almost decided to just go for the MEDAL rather than the NATCH. I guess we just have to remember that the dogs have no clue what titles they are earning - we just need to do what will make the game the most fun!

  2. Big dog times in NADAC are the most difficult, there is no debating that (although I'm sure Sharon would...). Kaiser can have a mental breakdown on course, redo the weaves three times and still come in under course time in Standard. In TNG and Tunnelers he is never even close to course time. He can typically have one big flub in Jumpers or Weavers and not have to worry about course time. The 20/20+ dogs just seem to have a lot less room for error in comparison.

    That said, I'm not moving Secret down to Skilled for the extra time. I know she is capable of making 20+ Elite time if she isn't stressing about anything -- but she is a dog that stresses easily, and when she stresses she jumps poorly.

    Her landings are jarring in this video. She is landing with the full force of all her weight on both legs vs. taking the jump in a running stride -- There is a lot of this discussion happening on the NADAC list at the moment if you follow that at all. It's not healthy for her and at the moment jumping 16" is just safer for her. I also think it's more motivating for her (which is something she needs, too!).

    That whole NATCH/MEDAL issue is silly, but it's always been something I've dealt with. I ran Luke at 20+ because I wanted the NATCH. I knew he was better off at 16", but we stuck it out until he turned 7 and could run as a Veteran. He is SO MUCH HAPPIER jumping 16". Secret is not a small girl -- she is almost 50 lbs -- so it might be that jumping 16" is better for her in the long run. Although I really, really want to do USDAA with her....

    Ultimately I'm hoping that as her confidence improves, so will her form. But I hate throwing points down the toilet, so it's very possible I'll just always run her in Skilled in NADAC and just deal with the height difference between the two organizations. We'll cross that bridge when we get there -- meanwhile I just jump her at various heights at home so she keeps paying attention.

    I do say that Sharon's recent post about changing the MEDAL to NATCH-S did make me happy. It's stupid, but it did. :o)

  3. Hmmm...I like the idea of the NATCH-S! I don't check the NADAC discussions often, but I will check that out!

    It is so frustrating when your dog's performance is so different between practice and trials. But Secret is a young dog, so she has A LOT of time to get seasoned. I am sure everything will improve with time. The toughest thing about goal setting is taking into account each dogs' strengths. And I am sure that will change over time too. Just enjoy running and do what she thinks is the most fun!

    I assume you have, but have you checked out Susan Salo's jumping dvds? I watched them from Clean Run not too long ago and found the exercises very helpful. Since she is jumping well at home, I know the main thing is just trial experience, but I think the more you practice jumping at home, the easier the transition might be!