Monday, October 29, 2012

USDAA re-cap!

I have no video from our trial yesterday, but you will be graced with a plethora of pictures in this post.  :o)  This was my third trip over to Think Pawsitive and while I am starting to get to know several people on that side of the state (volunteering helps greatly with that!), I still don't feel confident enough to stick my camera in someone's face and ask them to video for us. Again, this is where I lament over having no video history of our USDAA journey, but oh well. I have course maps!
I am happy to report that we made it over to New Berlin with no mishaps this time! I opted to drive over the morning of instead of getting a hotel room as I'd considered. Part of the reason is because my parents ended up going to Chicago and couldn't watch Luke, but money always plays a factor, too. It's hard for me to justify the extra $100 when I know full well that I'm capable of getting up at 4 a.m. and driving over. Is it fun? No. But it's doable.

We left the house at 4:45, stopped for hot chocolate (I am sticking to my "no caffeine" rule) & breakfast before hitting the road -- and with a potty stop (for me, sorry dogs!) around Madison we pulled into Think Pawsitive about 7:37. They were walking Masters/P3 Jumpers, so I grabbed my course maps and joined in, letting the dogs sit and wait in the car. Performance was running last, so I knew I had plenty of time to set up and walk the dogs before Secret ran.

Secret rocked her first time in P3 Jumpers! She was happy, eager and pretty fast, too! My head failed me in the start and I almost ruined the whole thing between 3 & 4. My brain said, "FRONT CROSS!" but no.... I walked a rear cross and was NOT in the right position for a front. I managed to stop myself and not push Secret completely off her path, thankfully, although it did slow her momentum through that sequence for sure.

From there I did a front cross between 7 & 8 and then it was really all just single-sided handling from there, managing the approach and pulling her into those slices. There certainly weren't many jumps on this course that were taken straight across, that's for sure!

Secret WON the class! She was 10 seconds under course time. Yay Secret!


Kaiser did equally as well in his first time running P2 Jumpers. The opening was right up his alley and was very motivating for him. Whee, tunnel! His jumping was going really well, too, right up to #8 when I got a bit stalled out by the course design. He seems to have fewer issues if I'm running full out and pushing him. When I stop pushing, he gets sticky at 12". So in other words, we don't like pinwheels in USDAA.

Once we got out of that circle he opened up again and ran well to the finish. Kaiser was the only 12" dog in P2, but he managed to get the fastest time out of all the P2 dogs! I didn't look at Advanced, but there were some fast border collies in that one, so I'm guessing it wasn't close. lol

Secret had a really lovely Snooker run! It's nice when the judge makes the 7 option so inviting, but surprisingly not a ton of people in the class went for it. For me it was obvious that we would start out with 1-7, 1-7, but I was kind of wandering after that during the walk-through to see what worked best. For a while I was going to do 1-4, 1-3, but it was a lot of cranking around. Then it occurred to me that 1-5, 1-3 was a lot more flowy, so we went with that and it worked very well. I had to push Secret to the back side of #2 and she ran the close beautifully. We got all the way through 7 without the buzzer going off! Secret won this class as well -- the other 22" dog only did 3 reds.

I thought I'd come up with a Kaiser-friendly course in Snooker, but it didn't turn out that way. My plan was 1-3, 1-6, 1-7. The course was set different than you see in the map, though, because we had to go up and over 2 to get to the second red. I was SO PROUD of Kaiser for *running past a jump* with me -- that's huge for him. But then we both got turned around at the red and he ended up back-jumping it before I could save it. Whistle. Oh well.

The ONLY plan for Secret's P2 Gamblers run was DO THE DOG WALK. It started in August down in Chicago at Regionals -- she bailed off the up plank at that trial and I haven't been able to keep her on a slatted dog walk since then. With Grand Prix and Standard coming up after this, my only focus was on getting her to do the dog walk. Bonus that it was the 7-point obstacle, I guess.

So we did jump, dog walk, tunnel, tunnel, dog walk, jump, jump, jump and then were on the a-frame when the buzzer went off. Secret sent nicely out to the teeter but bailed off the left side as it started to tip, so no Gamblers Q for us. In a perfect world I would have been sure to do the teeter in the opening, but in this situation it was FAR more important to use this time to school the dog walk. Secret literally CREPT across it the first time and was slightly hesitant the second time -- but she had no further issues the rest of the day, so WIN.

Kaiser's Gamblers curse is over!!  FINALLY. My plan for him was to avoid as many jumps as possible, just because I knew that would keep him happy. So he did jump, dog walk (got the contact!), tunnel, tunnel, dog walk (got the contact!) and then was in the weaves when the buzzer sounded. Almost everyone in the class was sending their dog over the jump in front of the tunnel -- This was NOT set at a friendly angle and it was very close to the tunnel opening, so I said, "screw that" and just sent Kaiser to the tunnel. He kind of bunny-hopped over #2, but kept the bar up for his very first Gamblers Q! I still think it's hilarious that my little distance dog has not been able to squeak out a P1 Gamblers Q until now.

Grand Prix was next. I admit that this is a little beyond both of them at this point in their USDAA careers, but it's good training time. Expensive training time, but training time nonetheless.

I managed to keep Kaiser from taking the a-frame in the beginning, but he still earned a refusal at the teeter. He also took the tunnel instead of the chute after #10 and then took the jump after the a-frame instead of the tunnel at the end. Such a Kaiser moment, I tell you. But he got all of his contacts, which is what I cared about going into Standard.

Secret also earned a refusal on the teeter, which didn't surprise me all that much considering that she last encountered it as she bailed off the side in Gamblers. She did take it, though, but then got another refusal as she skirted past the edge of #4 as the teeter bounced behind her. She was clean to the end after that -- even her weaves weren't all that bad.

So, last class of the day -- Standard! People were dropping like flies by this point (it was after 5:00 p.m.), but we need these Q's and we were stuck there until the bitter end. I didn't have much of a dog left at this point, but Secret gave it her best shot. She nailed it! Her weaves were pretty darn slow, and in Masters she probably would have had a refusal at the #10 tunnel because she didn't like my rear cross there, but only contacts are faulted in P2 and she got those! Even the teeter -- she didn't hesitate AT ALL! I was very happy with this run. By virtue of having the only clean 22" run, Secret also won this class!

Kaiser's little brain was pretty fried by this point as well, but he gave it his best shot. His a-frame contact was a little close for comfort, but thankfully it was okay. He squarely hit his dog walk contact (after stopping above it) and attacked the table! I was a little concerned thanks to the speed at which he approached the table -- he does have that history of ping-ponging off it, after all -- but all of the fun table games we've been playing have paid off and he slammed on and stayed on. I did need to remind him to lay down, but he did so quickly.

The only blunder we had was that I insisted on a front cross between the chute and the teeter and he didn't feel like waiting for me. In P2 we would have gotten a refusal at the teeter because he ran past it as I was trying to pull him back around me, but thankfully we don't get refusals in P1 and he got a Q! That completes his P1 Standard title AND makes him a Performance Dog! On to P2 in everything!

But now that means that he & Secret are in the same classes again except for Jumpers. I'm going to have to decide what I'm going to do for the next trial. Secret doesn't do so well running all of the classes, so I may switch them off and let one run some classes and the other do the rest. We'll see... I have time to decide. The next trial is back at Think Pawsitive over Thanksgiving weekend.


  1. Nice recap. That Grand Prix course looks like it had some fun challenges - were there many that Q'd it?

    1. I never actually got around to looking at the results since my two weren't clean, but I saw quite a few really lovely runs on this course! We have some really great handlers/dogs around here. Ann Braue was there with two dogs - this was the first time I've seen her at USDAA around here. Diane Sanders has several fantastic dogs and James Bahr with Pressure is always fun to watch, if you happened to see them at Cyno. I love USDAA around here because there are so many great teams. It's the same up in Minneapolis where you get to watch teams like Terry Smorch & Presto. :o)

      There was a USDAA trial up there this weekend, too, and it was hard to choose since I know more people there. Ultimately TP is closer and had a better class list for my dogs on one day, so that won out.

    2. Those are some great handlers. Ann Braue has had multiple world team dogs and from what I hear, she is a really nice person too. I saw Diane Sanders and James running in some finals at Cynosport this year - those are some great dogs too.

      Out here, our local "celebrities" are Stacy Peardot-Goudy, Jen Martin & Bode (they took 2nd in 22" Steeplechase this year), Steve Moon & Slick and Kim Terrill & Steeple. I think it's great to run among such good handlers with fast dogs - its more fun when there is good competition vs. maybe being the only dog in your class, but it does make getting Super Q's tougher!

    3. I guess I'm lucky there, as none of the really "big names" run P22". ;o)

      Secret needs one more Snooker Q before we get to move up to P3 and play with the big dogs for those SQ. I'm anxious to see how that goes! She has good Snooker skills, but not always the speed to go for big combos and top points. We'll see!

  2. Congrats on a great weekend!