The super fantabulous action photos on the blog today are courtesy of my friend, Jen! She lives down by St. Louis and drove up to see us this morning. We met for lunch on my way home from Champs in 2009, so it was nice that she was able to actually see the dogs in action this time. It was her first time seeing it in person -- And hey, if you are going to experience agility, what could be better than viewing it on a National level? She seemed to enjoy it, she got to see pretty good runs by all three of my dogs and she got great photos! Score! :o)
I'll recap Secret's day first since it IS her blog. She woke up with a bee in her bonnet this morning. She was racing laps around the hotel room and trying to get the boys to play with her, which I brought to a quick end because Luke is incapable of playing without barking.... I'm not doing any extra activity/exercise with the dogs to keep them as fresh as possible and I think Secret is starting to boil over.
It seemed to be a good thing for round 5 this morning. She started out really, really fast! It was a weavers focused course with three short sets of weaves and one set of 12. The set of 6 that you took twice had a fault line on both sides, but the only way you could really get faulted was if your dog missed the entry, as the line was so close it was almost impossible to fix without the dog crossing it.
Secret was flying along putting in another stellar round, until we got to the set of 12. I know it was my fault -- I pulled my shoulders a mili-second too early to get the turn into a hoop and she pulled out at pole 10. Darn it, I knew that was it for us in terms of placements for that class. What I didn't expect was for her to momentarily forget how to weave. She entered on the wrong side twice and then backweaved towards me, earning 10 faults. She ended up in 29th place for that round (*note, she was 22nd in Round 4 last night).
Round 6 tonight was considered the "speed round," although I'm not sure why because it had some fairly technical moments. It was a long straight line diagonally across the arena to the weaves (facing into the wall), to the dog walk where you had to send out to a jump over the line, call them back to a tricky serpentine and then send them back out over the line to a jump and then through a tunnel under the dog walk. The ending was a staggered serpentine to the a-frame and out. Twenty obstacles total.
I was behind when Secret hit the weaves, but not by much. She pulled to the right of them and I had to reset her. She was weaving slowly and around pole 10 got a glassy look in her eye and she veered left. I knew there was no point in resetting them again, so in the interest of not stressing her and keeping the baby happy, we just went on. She ran the rest of the course flawlessly, including that tricky distance sequence. While she isn't consistently scoring terribly high, I am SO impressed with the fabulous parts of each run, that she is nailing all of the distance challenges and that she's managed to keep it together and have fun for six rounds!!
Should we go to Kaiser next? I suppose we can start with results from that FABULOUS Round 4 last night. :o) It turns out I had nothing to worry about -- Kaiser came in 1st place by a full FIVE SECONDS. Holy cow!! Little dude was haulin'.
I figured the Weavers round this morning would appeal to him. He does love weaving, after all, and the dog walk was right at the end with a straight shot out through a hoop & a tunnel. We had one close off course when turning away from the finish tunnel to the set of 12 weaves, but we recovered quickly. I was ahead of Kaiser when he entered the dog walk and I just ran hard for the finish. His dog walk was GORGEOUS. Just text book! I made sure to mark it with a huge, "YES, GOOD BOY" and then ran right out to give him treats. What a good, good boy.
Results of that run? Oh yes, another first place!!! :o) This time by only about a second, though.
I wish it weren't so, but my wacky little northern breed was back again for Round 6 tonight. It doesn't surprise me terribly, though, because this course had about every one of his stressors. He's not so good with long straight lines with me falling way behind. His distance skills are all lateral to me, not in front of me. The weaves went into the wall, so he had nothing in front of him that he was driving to -- So he came out of the poles slower than normal and didn't have a whole lot of get up and go for the dog walk.
I was behind and sent him on -- I think he got called on it, but who knows. I was more worried about getting him to turn off a jump in a pinwheel, as the correct course was a 180 into the serpentine. We got that, good boy! But the next part required him to cross over my feet and that is never a good thing in his book. It violates his space bubble rules. I do believe we incurred a back jumping fault there. He did the next part of the distance challenge flawlessly, but then I once again had to do a rear cross in tight quarters, which was in the space bubble. He went around that jump and did another back jump. We ran out super fast with a gorgeous a-frame, but we wasted a LOT of time on that run and incurred 30 faults most likely.
So what does this mean? Well, tonight I finally sat down and did the math. Previously I was kind of going by, "Hey, he has two first places, how could he not make the finals?" Well, when you bomb three out of the six classes.... Long story short, after round five he was 0.24 points out of fourth place, and four dogs go into the finals for our group. Our only hope is that the two dogs closest to us (6th place was 6 points behind) also bombed this round. I didn't watch and I have no idea. In addition, of course, we have to pretty much kick ass tomorrow morning -- I'm hoping it's a more Kaiser-friendly course.
Since Champs is won via an accumulative score, not a winner-take-all format, we don't have a hope of winning overall -- But my goal was to get one dog into finals, so I guess we'll see how things pan out tomorrow morning.And now for Luke's update. I have to say, I am so proud of Luke. He has now put in five clean runs out of six. That is AMAZING. Sadly, I knew that his speed was not going to be on par with the rest of his competitive class, much as it was in 2009 when he was jumping 20+. Regardless, he is staying consistent, running well and just doing an overall superb job.
His run this morning was FLAWLESS. I find it interesting that he performed so well on a weavers focused round since that class has been our nemesis in NADAC ever since we moved to Elite. With Luke one Q from his second V-NATCH, though, I think perhaps we can say we've conquered that demon. And even further proof:
CHECK IT OUT. The old man got 7th place in Round 5 this morning!!!! Isn't that the most awesome news ever? I honestly felt more proud of that ribbon than I did of Kaiser's first place in that round. With Kaiser it's almost a given that he'll place well if he manages to run clean, but poor Luke can run his heart out and still place behind a dog with faults in his division, simply because his size prohibits him from running as fast as them. But look at that, he proved that big dogs can hold their own -- and with 36 weave poles, no less!
He was just as awesome in Round 6 tonight, but I don't know that it will be enough to place. I really collected him at the weave entrance because the sun was shining straight into the first three poles. I didn't want him to miss it from being blinded, so I figured a slower entry was safer. He nailed the rest of the course, so we'll see. I have no idea how successful the rest of the class was. Maybe we'll be surprised, who knows.
Not too much to write home about for Team today. I knew I would have trouble getting Kaiser to turn off a tunnel and I was right. CeCe also went off course, so despite being really fast, our team had 20 faults and ended up in 17th place today. The good news is that it sounds like we have a really good shot at Best Team Outfit!!
Luke's team had a replacement dog, as Zeus had to pull out due to a muscle strain. This means that we are out of the running for final placements, but we can still run for individual placements in each round. Luke was phenomenal with really sweet, nice turns. He loves the short team runs!! Our second dog, Dax, incurred the same fault that many dogs did with that off course tunnel. So we had a decent time, but 10 faults which put us in 5th place. Unfortunately the Vet Team division only ribbons out to fourth, so we just missed out. Oh well, it was fun!
One more day.....