Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just us girls - And Secret was AWESOME!

Due to something that came up on Saturday (more in a bit), the decision of "do I take Secret alone to the USDAA trial on Monday" or "do I bring the boys along for moral support" was made for me. Secret and I were heading out solo for our first time participating in Team/Performance Versatility Pairs and I had NO IDEA what to expect.

Mind you, the last time we even attempted this was last June when she more or less had a mental breakdown on me. It was a USDAA trial over at Think Pawsitive (so same as this day) and my father was along for the ride. I guess I'll never know if she was wiggy because of that or if it was the unfamiliar experience of being by herself that made her come unglued and act completely stressed. For a dog that came into the house as #3, Secret doesn't tend to get a whole lot of alone time (and she prefers it that way).

But looky-looky! I don't think Secret minded being alone on this day! The baby dog blew away her competition to handily bring home the (somewhat fake but still an honor) "title" of Top Scoring 22" Performance dog for the entire day! As you can see, she even ended up third highest Performance dog, which I think is pretty darn awesome. And if I might brag here (haha), she even managed to score higher than a dog that recently won at AKC Nationals.  ;o)  I am terribly proud of Secret!

The reason I ended up taking Secret by herself is because my Vue ended up in the shop all weekend. I took it in for an oil change on Saturday so that everything would be all set for our trip across the state on Monday. I mentioned off-hand that it had been running louder at higher speeds and asked if they wouldn't mind looking into that. Well, $700 later... Turns out I had a bad bearing (perhaps two, as I'm taking it back in tomorrow because I think there is still something off).

Because this was discovered at the end of the day on Saturday and they didn't have enough time to get that sucker popped out and replaced, they were kind enough to send me home with this Chrysler Town & Country. Typically they do NOT allow pets in their vehicles for any reason, but they were super awesome and knew that I had a show I needed to get to. While it would have been lovely to pack this thing to the gills and really test it out with all three dogs, I figured I'd at least do right by them and try to avoid as much dog hair as possible by just bringing Secret.

I LOVED IT. Maybe I won't end up with a Town & Country (they seem to be one of the more expensive mini vans out there), but it sure did seal the deal that I need to get one of these things sooner rather than later. It would just make life with the dogs so much easier.

I hoped that starting off in a new vehicle wouldn't be enough to set Secret off from the start. She was a little whiny when we first left (not until 6 a.m., mind you -- how awesome was it to "sleep in" before driving over to New Berlin?), but she quickly settled in and slept the whole way.

I was actually the third person at Think Pawsitive that morning -- I guess after showing Saturday and Sunday most people didn't feel like getting there any earlier than they had to. Normally we crate in the back room by the grooming business because it's quieter and out of the way, but there were no crates in there at all and I wasn't sure if I should even go in there. The main crating area was almost empty, though, so it appeared we would be able to set up out of the way in a quiet area. It worked out well for us and Secret only barked when someone brought a dog through to go play in their pool -- and that's only because every dog in the place got set off when that dog came through. I wonder what it is about some dogs...

At any rate, Secret started off clingy and weird. I ignored her when she groveled. We spent quite a bit of time wandering around outside since we had so much time to kill and Secret seemed to start settling in.

Our PVP partners, Scott & Ricochet, showed up not terribly long after we did. It was also their first day of showing for the weekend so they were fresh and ready to go.

Our day started with Jumpers and it was a fun course that didn't throw anything too out of the ordinary at us. I wasn't sure what dog I was going to have with me, but Secret surprised me and she was happy and ready to go when I took her out of her crate for this run.

I managed to avoid doing any sort of lead-out the entire day, which I think Secret prefers. I started this Jumpers course on the right and pulled Secret around in a post-turn before sending to the tunnel. The majority of teams opted for a front cross, but Secret is always faster when I stay to the "inside turn" of a tunnel.

She came barreling out, which surprised the heck out of me because she has a history of hating the tunnels at TP. I did a blind cross between 6-7 and again between 10-11 after sending her over the broad jump. Secret's weaves were very nice in this run, as they tend to be for the first set of the day. I ran her a couple of steps out of the weaves before doing a front cross to turn to jump 15 and then ran for home.

It was SUCH a nice run. The whole thing felt just fabulous and Secret was really moving out nicely. Definitely wish I would have gotten it on video, but my partner and I were back-to-back the entire weekend and unfortunately had no way to tape each other (he's a video addict as well, so at least I know I have someone I can go to if we run into each other at other trials!).

I have a lot to learn about how Team events are scored. In a run that felt like this Secret would typically be at least 10 seconds under SCT for P3 Jumpers. Her run was just over 30 seconds, so imagine my surprise when I saw that the cut-off for a Q was just over 31 seconds. It was humbling to "barely squeak by" on a run that felt that awesome. Secret got 2nd place in the class, but the fastest 22" dog had a time of just over 26 seconds. That was my first lesson in how one dog can "screw over" the rest of the class. lol

Our partner unfortunately E'd just after the weaves. We're pretty sure Ricochet didn't even see jump 15 and she took the next one instead -- several dogs did the same. Oh well, it's just one run!

Snooker was up next. Again with the "different rules for Team day" -- We were actually required to take all four reds, which IMO made it a bit more challenging to come up with a workable plan for a dog like Secret.

I started with the top red, took the four jump, then the red in the middle/bottom, then the seven combo followed by the upper red. At this point the plan was to take the seven combo again, but Secret decided the tunnel would be more fun. Thank goodness that was the six combo!  :o)  Oh, back-track... Secret ran past the a-frame the first time, so we wasted some time pulling back around to do that without taking anything else in our path.

After the unplanned six we ran through the two jumps and over to take the lower red. Here I planned to call Secret to the left/lower side of four on the way up to start the close, but I apparently pushed her to take the right/top side. CRAP. I opted to wrap her into me to avoid the off course three and then sent to start the close with a rear cross at two.

From there I got to breath again. :o)  Everyone thought that the 6b to 7a sequence was rather interesting (myself included). For some reason it never even occurred to me to get into place for a front cross after the tunnel (I totally could have). Instead I got all fancy and flipped Secret to the outside and brought her back around for a nice figure-eight. It was quite lovely. The buzzer sounded when Secret hit the a-frame, so we managed to get through six in the close. Had we not wasted time on either the a-frame blunder or the wrong turn at 4 we would have gotten all the way. Oh well, Secret ended up with 45 points and won the class! She was in first place after two rounds and she never lost it after that.

Our partner, unfortunately, had a 1-point round. Ricochet must have knocked the bar on the five jump before diving into the tunnel for a whistle. Oh well. I think we were 7th of 8 at that point?

Gamblers was our third run of the day. Things were moving along nicely, as there were 8 PVP teams and about the same number of DAM teams.

Again with the different rules -- You had the opening period to accumulate points. The seven-point obstacle was the dog walk, but ONLY if done from behind the line. If you did the dog walk but crossed over the line it was worth 0 points. Once the buzzer sounded you had 16 seconds (for us, at least) to accumulate double points. If you didn't make it over the finish jump before the second buzzer sounded you lost all of your gamble bonus, but kept your opening points.

I started at the tunnel, running past the finish jump with Secret (it wasn't live, but the judge didn't want us to use it in the opening). I sent her across the dog walk and she wasn't super speedy, so that confirmed that we would NOT be trying for more than one of those in the closing. When she came back over the jump at me I sent her right back over for another 7, then sent through the tunnel and hauled butt to the a-frame.

My very unscientific calculations (ie: gut feeling) had figured the buzzer would go off after I had done tunnel-tunnel and somewhere around being back on the a-frame again. Thanks to that first slow dog walk, though, the buzzer sounded pretty much right as Secret came out of the tunnel the first time. Oh crap. That was a long way to go in 16 seconds with a dog walk in there... My mind raced as I tried to think of how to get to the finish line faster. I look at the map now and see -- oh, duh, do the a-frame and two jumps on the way to the finish. It didn't occur to me then, though, so I just kept on with the original plan.

I sent Secret back into the tunnel and took off. I totally didn't care what she did on the a-frame, but she's not really one for leaping contacts so we got that. I really pushed her over the dog walk and released as soon as she got a toenail in the yellow. Thank GOD she came driving out of the tunnel and I scooped her up and got her over the finish jump -- and NO BUZZER. Holy crap, I couldn't believe it. Turns out we had a whopping 0.78 seconds to spare there. lol

Secret had a SEVENTY-TWO POINT Gamblers run! Remember what I said about one dog screwing up the whole spread? Yup, it was Secret. She was the only 22" dog to Q in that run, as the second-place dog had something in the 40's or low 50's.

Our partner was literally 0.2 seconds over time, so they didn't get the bonus points. Bummer. Good thing Ricochet is screaming fast and got over 30 points in the opening, though!

Secret got a little longer break while they ran Grand Prix (I didn't enter her because there was no way she'd last through six classes). Next up for us was Standard and the only thing that worried me about this course was that it started with the chute. Argh. Secret hates the USDAA chute. She'd really seemed to like the AKC chute last weekend so I was hoping maybe she'd think it was fun at first, but that was a no-go. She more or less came out of it walking, just as I'd feared.

Secret was definitely starting to drag on this course. When she hit the weaves she darn near completely stalled out on me -- not helped at all by the fact that we had a sharp left turn to make after the weaves, so I didn't want to get ahead of her.

Long story short, Secret finished this run clean, but it took her 50 seconds to do so. Again, she likely would have (barely) made time in P3, but thanks to the 1st place dog having a screaming fast time of 36 seconds, we were about 9 seconds outside the range of a Q. Oh well, the clean run padded our lead a bit more.

Ricochet struggled a bit on this course with a few bars and refusals, but she DID NOT E. Hooray! Good girl, Ricochet!  :o)

Going into the final round, our team (Target Practice) was one spot out of Q range. We crossed our fingers that other PVP teams would crash and burn, and hoped for the best.  ;o)  Honestly, though, this wasn't really a tricky Relay course at all and that just didn't happen.

After Standard, it was pretty obvious that Secret didn't want to do any more weaves the rest of the day. We took the top half of the course, which was a double blessing since the second half also had a chute.

While waiting for our turn Secret fell IN LOVE with an 8-month-old Aussie that someone had brought for socialization. Absolutely in love, I tell you. She was pouncing and playing and just being a general lunatic, so I let her be stupid with him pretty much until right before we went into the ring. The end result was that she was as high as a kite and she flew through our half -- granted, it was pretty much all jumps, so that also makes for Happy Secret (we like teeters now, too!).

I squeezed in a quick blind between the tire and the tunnel then handled the last serpentine of jumps from the bottom/right so that I'd be in a good position for the hand-off. The judge had deemed this to be a "reverse relay," which meant that the person running did NOT have the baton and would have to take it from their partner before the partner could begin the next part of the course. I was super bummed about this at first because Secret always thinks the baton is a toy and runs faster -- but it worked out and we had probably the best hand-off of the day.

I think Ricochet had a bar and a couple of refusals. Our time was good, but the refusals put us down in the pack a bit. Oh well, we figured that was it for us.

Imagine our surprise, then, when results were posted and we were ABOVE the Q-line! As a matter of fact, all eight PVP teams got a Q! Apparently that doesn't happen often, but all of our scores were within a percentage of the top team, so we all Q'd. Hooray! So in addition to being the top scoring 22" dog, Secret also got her very first PVP Q!

I thought the whole day was loads of fun. The whole trial just seemed to have a different feel/atmosphere than a normal trial day and it was wonderful to have a partner to bounce things off of (especially in New Berlin, where I still don't really "know" a lot of people). I couldn't have asked for a nicer teammate, either, which was super wonderful.

We can't wait to play in Team again! Unfortunately it doesn't look like we'll even have the chance until Labor Day weekend, which will be our first chance to play USDAA for several months. I'll have to decide if I would rather get a Team/Tournament Q or if I think continuing to work towards PDCH is more important I guess.

This Saturday is our last USDAA opportunity until then. It is outdoors at Lake Elmo, MN and currently there is rain/thunderstorms in the forecast. It seems to decrease every day, though, so fingers crossed! Secret is entered in five runs -- Gamblers, Snooker, Pairs Relay, Standard and Grand Prix. I kept her out of Jumpers since she finished her PJM title and I knew she wouldn't have a sixth run in her anyhow. Luke gets to play in Jumpers again, though, along with Standard and Gamblers. Kaiser gets to come along for the ride (no worries, he has NADAC coming up two weeks after that).

And finally, I got into the AKC trial in Burnsville, MN at the end of June! They ended up not having to do the random draw after all, so everyone who got their entries in by draw date got in. Sweet!


  1. Super yay! Congrats on the happy running Secret and bonus congrats for the new title!!!
    I never knew how Team was scored before, but it sounds fun! Maybe I'll have to get brave and try it.

    I'll see you on Saturday!

  2. Great job playing team! I love playing team since my dogs very seldom go offcourse. Amazing in Gamblers to get that many points!!

  3. Great job! You're gonna be a star in every venue!