Monday, September 3, 2012

Our whirlwind outdoor weekend!

We survived our crazy trip to the Cities, attending two different outdoor trials in two days!  And while I still feel it was a somewhat silly thing to do, I can at least say that I wasn't the only one.  A surprising number of people opted to "divide their loyalties" between trials this weekend.  There were a minimum of four of us who were at NADAC on Saturday and USDAA on Sunday -- one friend decided to stay and do another day of NADAC, or there would have been five.

The whole business of setting up/tearing down wasn't that bad.  The Alimagnet Dog Park where the NADAC trial was located this weekend was wonderful.  Minnesota Mixed Breed Club used to hold their outdoor trials at a park in Savage, which was a nice park, but no matter how you looked at it the parking was horrible.  I was able to park fairly close to my tenting area at the new park, so it wasn't that bad of a haul.  I also minimized as much as possible, bringing only the soft x-pen for the boys and the soft crate for Secret -- all surrounded/contained by two metal x-pens so they could be loose when I was there.  All told, I think I made equal (or fewer!) trips than I do for indoor trials and it was a closer set-up.  On Sunday, at Washington County Fairgrounds, I set the tent up directly out the back of my car, so definitely no complaining there.

Saturday was a super long day.  The alarm went off at 4 a.m. and even the dogs just looked at me like, "You're kidding, right?"  They all enjoyed snoozing in the back of the car on the ride up while I tried to keep from having one of the panic attacks that seems to be plaguing me on long drives these days...  Seriously, I don't know what the heck is going on, but all of my car problems this year have just built on top of each other and I'm convinced that my car is trying to kill me or something.  Oh, since I last posted I had another car issue -- following the break-in, my car was dead the next morning.  That was a fun day.  A fun day with a 2012 Chevy Traverse loaner car.  :o)  So yeah, driving is giving me bad anxiety issues....  I'm thankful for the Xanax prescription I got last month from my doctor.

We got to the trial site in plenty of time on Saturday, giving the dogs time to potty and settle in.  Elite Jumpers started the day.  Kaiser was up first, running small to tall -- The little stinker shot off like a cannon over the first jump and then just ran off yonder with the ye-haws and eventually landed himself in an off course tunnel.  I called him back to me, re-set him at the start (for an E) and then, of course, he ran a lovely & speedy course.  Stinker.  Luke slipped and completely took out the entire jump, but otherwise ran well.  Secret was not terribly focused and dropped her head to check out the grass a time or two (several dogs were having big problems in that ring with smell issues), but she made it through the course clean -- and get this, somehow managed to get 1st in a fairly good-sized group (I counted at least 7).  There must have been a lot of faults, because she only clocked 5.2 yps, which is slow even for her in Jumpers.

Chances was up next and it was Kaiser's big moment to shine!  I was hopeful that he would get his NATCH at this trial because our favorite photographer, Amy, was shooting this weekend.  She did Luke's first NATCH picture and I hoped to get one of hers for Kaiser, too.  Sadly, it was not meant to be.  I said, "out" and Kaiser went OUT -- way out to an off course tunnel that I hadn't even seen as an issue.  Neither Luke nor Secret got it, either.  It's a bad course to skunk all three of my dogs!  They all faulted in different spots, which is interesting.  Secret was doing well, but my poor handling landed me right against the line at a very bad spot.  We actually got OUT of that little mess, but then I was still stuck at the line and we didn't have the momentum to send back out to a tunnel and she took the nearer jump option instead.  Oh well.

The Elite Regular courses weren't much to write home about.  Secret made it through them cleanly with no issues, which is more than I can say for the boys.  The tunnel discriminations got Kaiser once (my crappy handling got him in the other).  Luke also took one of the tunnels (that one was totally my fault, though) and in his second round I guess he knocked a bar that I didn't see and brought home one of those godforsaken 5 point Q's. I wish I could just say, "No thanks, I don't want it."  I hate those things.  The only quirk in Secret's performance was in Round 1 where I totally left her in the weaves and she decided that was rather unmotivating and almost completely stopped.  I made sure to stick with her for the rest of the weekend....

The dogs were done at that point for the day, but I stuck around to work a few more classes since we were just going to be stuck at the hotel all night anyhow.  We packed up and left around 4:30 or so, before they started running Tunnelers.  We stayed at another La Quinta, but we will NOT be staying at the Bloomington location again if I can help it...  There was nothing wrong with the facility itself, but it is just not set up well for dogs.  There was hardly any grass to speak of and the parking/exit door situation is just crazy.  It was like a maze!  I know there were a few other LQ's in that area, so we'll keep that in mind for next time.

Thankfully there was a Starbucks nearby for our 30 minute drive to Lake Elmo/Washington County Fairgrounds.  I was none too early, though, and didn't even get to set anything up before the briefing/walk-through.  Secret was up first in P2 Gamblers.  She had a really nice opening, earning 20 points before the buzzer sounded, but then she faulted in the gamble by refusing the teeter.  :o(  After the whistle blew I stepped over the line and did manage to get her over the teeter before leaving the ring.

Kaiser!!  What a little turd.  lol  Let's point out the good stuff -- he was running awesome and jumping just like he does at home.  This leads me to believe that a very large portion of his jumping issues ARE related to eyesight and lighting issues.  He was just spunky and full of himself, which meant he was a bit of a loon.  He would have Q'd easily IF he would have gotten EITHER of his dog walk contacts....  His two sets of weaves and the bonus tire he threw in only netted him 14 points, though, and I think he needed 18 in the opening.  Of course, for once he even managed to stop on the teeter in the gamble.  Figures.

Secret's P2 Standard run started out with a bobble right away, but that was all my fault.  She was actually jumping in extension down the opening line and I failed to properly cue the slight turn to the a-frame, causing a run-out.  In Advanced, refusals are only counted on, you got it, contact obstacles.  From there it was a lovely run, until the second obstacle from the end.  Do you remember how she got on the dog walk in Chicago and jumped off before she hit the top?  Yup, she did it again.  What the heck?  She didn't have ANY dog walk issues at the NADAC trial on Saturday.  This tells me that we MUST plan a Gamblers course that includes the dog walk at our next trial....

Kaiser, Kaiser, Kaiser...  With his new-found confidence he was off like a rocket at the start, which put me behind him at the a-frame (which I was approaching hesitantly due to his habit of running around the first one at USDAA trials).  He sailed right up and over that baby -- and launched over the contact.  Sigh.  The rest of his run was GREAT, including a fabulous teeter AND a stop on the dog walk.

Pairs was up next -- Secret was entered; Kaiser was not.  For the first time ever, Secret actually had a Pairs partner and wasn't a draw!  I cannot, therefore, tell you how sorry I was for the person in our group who was a draw.  Nobody would volunteer to run with her, and there were at least six, possibly eight, people who could have stepped forward.  I apologized and said that I didn't feel Secret WOULD run twice in a row, plus she would then be required to do the dog walk and the odds weren't looking so hot.  As it was, my partner ended up volunteering and ran with her.  We had a great partner with a young Terv.  It worked out perfectly, as she was hoping to get the first part with fewer jumps and I was glad to avoid the dog walk after what happened in Standard.  Our partner knocked one bar, but we were still a good 10 seconds under time for 1st place.  Secret had her fastest weaves of the weekend in that run -- of course, because I was holding "a toy."  I was proud of her for holding her stay while I got the baton from our partner (who was not sure what her dog would do out there and was happy to learn that I could have Secret stay well out of the way).

I planned a very conservative Snooker run for Secret.  The 7 was a set of six weaves and a jump and I just didn't feel like throwing it at her.  It was hot, she was melting and I just wanted to get enough points to Q.  That said, we did go for all four reds because it worked out that way.  We did 1-2, 1-6, 1-4, 1-3 and then the buzzer sounded as we were going over the last 7 jump, so we got credit through six.  And that's fine, I think I had it figured out that we needed to get through six and we did!

Kaiser's weaves are his strong point and I couldn't find a different plan that I felt I could prevent him from taking an off course jump, so I went for all sevens with him.  P1 only had the option of three reds, so with him I went 1-7 (7 was still the same combination), 1-7, 1-7 and we got through six before the buzzer sounded.  With his plan we only needed to get through five to Q.  We impressed the judge, though -- Aside from being the only pair to attempt three 7's in P1/Starters, Kaiser had a little turd moment and shot past the weaves on the first approach.  BUT, and I wish I had it on video, he took the weaves from the opposite direction on his recall to me, so I was able to continue on with the plan. lol  I heard a few murmurs when he did that -- Heck, I was surprised, too, as I stood and watched him weave towards me!  I just laughed and ran with it.

Our day ended with Jumpers.  It was a very nice course for both dogs.  Secret was getting pretty blah in the heat, so I spent a good 10 minutes rubbing down her belly with ice cubes prior to her run and I think it helped.  She also spent some time that afternoon wearing Luke's (much too large for her) Cool Coat that I soaked in ice water from the cooler.  She put in a lovely and smooth run for a Q/1st and her P2 Jumpers title!!  That means on to P3 for the baby dog!!!  I can't wait to attack those Masters courses.

With his lovely outdoor jumping, Kaiser had no issues and sailed through his P1 course -- also earning Q/1st and his very first USDAA title!  Doesn't that work out just grand?  Secret moves out of P2 and Kaiser moves in.  :o)  Works for me.

We were all ever so thankful to have a lazy day off at home today.  Yay for Labor Day!  And we are enjoying the treat we came home to -- my parents came on Saturday and laid down the pea gravel in the dog yard!  The dogs were super interested in it when we arrived home.  I don't know that anyone has "used" it yet, but they'll get their chance tomorrow.

The best news of all is that I only have one more week/weekend of work and then we get to play again!  We have NADAC in La Crosse in two weeks and hopefully with TWO shots at it, Kaiser will get that final Chances run for his NATCH....

But he IS a Klee Kai so you never know.....  lol

For Kaiser's sake, I am going to keep my options open and add more outdoor trials to our calendar.  Unfortunately for him, we appear to be out of opportunities until next spring.  The lighting at Think Pawsitive in New Berlin seems to be fairly good for him, though, so we'll see how it goes in October.  I'm happy to have somewhat of an "answer" on his jumping issues.  But mostly I was just so happy to see how much fun he was having without the stress of his vision issues.

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