Saturday, June 16, 2012

Great day of USDAA!

 We had a great day at the Cream City Canine's USDAA trial held at Think Pawsitive in New Berlin, WI today!  The awesomeness started with the fact that my dad decided to come along for the trip as a sort of "Father's Day" outing for the two of us.  I think it's pretty swell that he gave up his day to schlep along to an all day agility trial across the state.  It was neat that he got to see what I'm doing now and he definitely appreciated the difference between USDAA and NADAC (which he has come to watch on several occasions).  Dad even stepped in to work the Masters classes with me -- his first time working at a trial and those super long Masters classes aren't for sissies!  I really enjoyed our day together.

My goals for Secret consisted of getting Q's in P1 Standard & Snooker to finish her Performance Dog title, allowing us to move up to P2 in everything.  She definitely made that goal, qualifying in four out of our five runs!  Her only NQ of the day was our first time running Performance Grand Prix -- It was close, as we ran it without any course faults but were .67 seconds over time.  Bummer.

While today was an excellent day on paper, I was quite disappointed by how stressed Secret was.  She did *not* enjoy traveling by herself at all.  When we walked into the building she didn't even want to walk through the crating area!!  Last time we were there and she was with Kaiser this was a complete non-issue.  When you think about it, though, Secret has never had to do ANYTHING alone.  It was a whole new experience for her and apparently she found it totally terrifying.  I suppose I should be happy that she held it together to run at all.

I also think she remembers this place as the trial that had the most awful tunnels ever.  Our last trial had several of those S-shaped tunnels that really turned Secret off and I have a feeling she remembered that because she was SO SLOW through every tunnel today.  So..... Slow....  Thankfully P1 & P2 times are fairly lenient and she was well under time in everything but Grand Prix.

 Gamblers was up first and I have to admit I was honestly concerned about accumulating enough points in the opening!  The gamble was easy enough, but the opening required 13 points in a 1-2-3-5 point system!  The weaves were the five point obstacle up at the top and we all know that Secret is not a fast weaver.  That said, I was not coming up with a good fool-proof plan that would get us to 13 without those weaves, so I went up the left side of the course -- also figuring that Secret's a-frame is a lot faster than her dog walk.  We had a nice opening until she got "stuck" behind the tunnel (I admit, I handled it badly!) and the buzzer went off when she was in it -- So she accumulated a total of 15 points in the open and easily finished the gamble.

This finished Secret's P1 Gamblers title!  Yay!  While this run wasn't super speedy, it wasn't horribly stressed and I was happy with it.
 Our first time playing in P2 Jumpers was up next.  It was a nice course but it had this super long 20' tunnel right at the start that Secret did NOT like.  I think she stopped briefly in it and then she came out just absolutely flat.  I could not do anything to get her moving in this run.  She was five seconds under SCT, but ten seconds slower than the dog that beat her....  It was just one of those runs where I was at a complete loss on how to get her going.  Three tunnels in that run -- tunnels at the "evil tunnel trial" -- were not our friend.  It was like running through quicksand.  But we did get through it with a Q, so good girl, Secret!
We didn't have a terribly long wait before we got our first crack at Performance Grand Prix.  It was a nice course and my only worry spot consisted of the number 9 tunnel, as I figured I SO did not need to run the back side of a tunnel in Secret's current tunnel-hating state of mind.  Because she was running so slowly today, though, I had no problem throwing in a couple of extra front/blind crosses to get through that sequence.

There are definitely a couple of spots where I could have tightened up turns and lines a bit, but major time sucks on this course for us were the weaves and the entrance to the chute.  Secret almost stopped going into the chute and I thought she was going to back out of it!  She did continue on forward, though, and trotted to the next jump.  She finished 0.67 seconds over course time for 2nd place, but an NQ.  Bummer, but not really a big surprise with how she was running today.

But still, we got through with no refusals or course faults, so I'm very proud of the baby dog for her first time running Grand Prix!  That's a "big dog" class for sure.   :o)
Snooker was great, with the exception of that stupid 20' tunnel again.  I went for flowy and simple, wanting nothing but the Q so we could hopefully get out of P1.  I went 1-6, 1-7, 1-5 and then easily made it through the closing.  Again the 20' tunnel completely sapped Secret of all hints of speed, but she felt better than she did in Jumpers.  Yay for our first Snooker Q!
Secret must have taken a nice nap before our Standard run because she was much happier and more playful for that run.  I thought for sure I wouldn't have a dog at all because we ended up waiting a good amount of time before our run.  I went to get her when I believed the first dog would be starting (she was the fifth dog in Performance), but when I brought her out the judge was wheeling the course.  Then the judge wheeled the course again.  She was an apprentice judge and is learning the ropes, so this must have been part of the process.  She and the supervising judge then sat at the computer for what seemed like FOREVER discussing lord knows what as all of our dogs stood around having meltdowns.

I almost ran out of cheese, which would have pissed Secret off greatly.  My dad was up in the video balcony and snapped this picture of us with his phone shortly before our run started.  I like that Secret is being attentive with a happy tail and doesn't look all stressy and freaked!
 And more or less, that is how she went into the ring!  As the day wore on I was experimenting with taking her leash off sooner to see if that helped the stress (hard to break that stupid NADAC "good luck" habit) and I do think it may have helped some.  I had her sass me at the start and then took off with her.  The Standard run was definitely our most fun of the day and she really ran nicely.  The weaves, while still slow, were definitely the fastest of the day.  Best news of all, she totally nailed the table with no hesitation!!  That was another goal I had going into the day, so this made me happy.  She downed quickly on the table, but not without sassing me first.  I like it when she barks because I feel it means she's actually having some fun.

She finished the course great -- very happy and relaxed!  That Q earned Secret her P1 Standard title and officially grants her the title of Performance Dog!  It is on to P2/Advanced for us in everything now!  Which also means that Kaiser gets to come to the next trial and try to finish out his own P1 titles.  Yay!

Let me just mention again how much I appreciated having my dad along today!!!  It's hard to play in a new organization in a new town where you don't know a soul.  I've really missed getting video of our runs to see where we're at, so it was *awesome* having my own videographer and not having to stress about that at all!  My dad rocks!!


  1. Wow Karissa, I think she did pretty darn great for her first trial all by herself...way to go baby dog! My girls first trial all by her one-sies was pretty stressful on her she likes it when she gets to have me all to herself at a trial.

    1. Thank you! It honestly never even occurred to me that she would find it so stressful. Had I even thought of it I would have schlepped Kaiser along for the ride, as he is fairly small and portable. :o)

      I do know someone who travels with an "emotional support dog" when they take one of their dogs to a trial without the other spouse/agility dogs in the family. I guess now I can better understand that arrangement! lol

  2. Congrats on a great day! Gotta love a stressy dog. Everyone should have one in their life to know what we go through!

    1. No doubt, right?! I think a lot of people really have no clue what it's like and blame it on the training. That's what I find most frustrating, I think. It's why I post so many training videos -- To prove that she really does actually like agility and has fun at home. lol :o)