Saturday, May 18, 2013

AKC Debut!

I would call today a success! Today we attended our very first AKC trial. It's always a different experience going back to the world of Novice. All of those poor, scared and inexperienced handlers and their green dogs... lol Then there's me, who's all like, "Wahoo, gotta love these short, fun and motivating courses!"  ;o)

Because we don't have any height cards yet, that meant that we had to get to the trial first thing to get measured. I knew Kaiser had to get measured, but I was surprised to find out that Secret had to be tortured measured as well. I thought the way I'd read the rules was that she, being over 22", wouldn't have to be measured unless a VMO was present to get the measurement she needs for her permanent card. Apparently this is not the case, however, and the judge said he would have to get a measurement to confirm that she was over 22". This seems silly, but whatever. Secret has never been measured in her agility career and found the whole experience rather traumatic, but we survived and duh, she's over 22". She was somewhere under 24", but our judge (Rod Ramsell) opted not to push her any further since it was pretty obvious she was not going to measure into the 20" class.

Obviously I was far more concerned about Kaiser's measurement. He was a good boy for his measurement and we did get the declaration of 14" that we needed for our runs in 8" Preferred to count today. The judge asked what I had him entered in and I think when you say you are already entered in Preferred they may tend to be slightly more forgiving. He did pretty much state that Kaiser is RIGHT at 14", though. Honest to god, we have no wiggle room at all. Of course now that I got his measurement for the weekend I wish he was entered both days, but oh well. Some day we'll get that silly height card and will be able to relax.

It was probably 11:30 before our first class. The day started with Standard and small dogs were up first. Kaiser was the third dog in the class and there were only seven dogs between him and Secret -- but it ended up being more than enough time...

Kaiser was a super good boy! He had a lovely dog walk and he didn't appear to even think about pulling a "Superman" off the teeter. He did, however, run past the table. Holy cow, the AKC table is wee! I don't really blame Kaiser for running past it; I don't think we've ever seen one so low before. We actually got called on a refusal and a run-out at the table because he jumped on it from the backside (whoops, I forget the rules), but you can still qualify with that in Novice -- Yay!

From there it was smooth sailing -- well, with the exception of the super exciting a-frame maneuver. Kaiser didn't think he needed to put any strides in on the downside of the a-frame, so he just flew over the top and bounced through the yellow. Eek! I'm not sure what that was all about. That happened to us a few times on the higher USDAA frame, but AKC now has a 5' a-frame for the 8" dogs, so it shouldn't have been a different pitch than the NADAC frame. Perhaps he saw slats, thought, "higher!" and stepped on the gas. Oh well, we gave the crowd a show. Kaiser got a Q and had the second fastest time of the class -- he was 0.5 seconds behind Secret!

Yup, Secret had the fastest time of the class. Go figure, right?! She was a rock star today and seemed to be enjoying herself. I don't think Secret minds sitting in the crate for four hours before her run at all! Nor does she care about spending another four hours in there before she runs again! lol

I left the course maps at the trial today so I don't have pictures to share, but Standard started with the chute. This was Secret's first experience with the short AKC chute. Considering she's not a huge fan of the heavy/long USDAA chute, I think she was happily surprised to find the end of this one so quickly, which was probably the reason why she picked up speed nicely for me at that point. Secret NAILED the teeter today -- I was so proud of her; it was probably one of her most confident teeters to date! Then she hopped on the table with no hesitation (first time on a table that tall) and landed in a down. GOOD GIRL! There was just so much to love about this run and I'm thrilled that she was so happy.

We didn't have any problem with the height, either, I'm happy to report! Secret handled the 24" jumps (including the double -- we didn't have a triple today) with no problem. I was sitting next to the judge during a walk-through at the end of the day and he made a point to tell me how nice her jumping style was over 24" and that he thought she was a lovely dog. That was very nice of him to say, especially since he didn't know any of our history or how much I went back and forth over which height to enter. We'll keep up with 24", I guess, and if Secret decides it sucks we can always move down.

The JWW course was pretty straightforward and fun. Kaiser was, well, Kaiser.  ;o)  I have no idea what happened, but he slipped around and took the backside of a jump, earning us a refusal (allowed in Novice) and a wrong course (not allowed in JWW). Stinker. No QQ for the wee man today, but it was so fun getting to run him at 8" in something other than NADAC. I think we'll actually have a lot of fun in AKC. We introduced a lot of people to the Klee Kai breed today, that's for sure...

Secret had another nice run! We did get a refusal when she pulled up short in front of a jump, but with that being our only fault of the run we still managed a Q and yet again the fastest time in the class! The refusal came because the start of the course didn't allow for much running and I was starting to come up short for a turn, so she read my lack of motion and stopped. Yes, well, that's an issue we know we have to work on... After that it was wide open and smooth sailing, though, and Secret finished up the course beautifully.

The world of AKC agility is something else, though, I tell you. Not only are the personalities of those participating just vastly different from what I'm used to, but the handling was also surprisingly different than I see even at USDAA trials around here. I have never seen so many blind crosses in my life! But hey, I guess that means these are my people and we'll fit in well. lol I also don't think I've ever seen so many people screaming and pleading with their dogs on course. Good heavens, I think a lot of those people would have more success if they'd just keep their mouths shut so that their dogs wouldn't be so distracted... Settle down folks, settle down. I was also surprised at the amount of "reactive handling" I saw, but I suppose that kind of goes hand in hand with the screaming.

We go back for more fun tomorrow! I debated taking Secret by herself and leaving the boys at home, but our friend Erika is there and Luke likes to hang out with her, so I figure they can come along. It will be a long, boring day for them, though. Hoping for another fun day for Secret!

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