Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter makes for a Perfectly good day of AKC!

Yesterday we got up at the butt crack of dawn (I guess it's been a while, though, so I shouldn't complain too much) to make the drive over to New Berlin to play AKC. Normally when doing one day of a trial I like to do Saturday and then enjoy sitting on my butt all day Sunday to recover from the long day and the drive. Not even realizing it was a holiday weekend, I opted to enter Sunday this time because they tend to be a little smaller (knowing that the trial didn't fill because I entered at the last second). It was a two-ring, two-judge trial and I think they had fewer than 330 runs combined, so entering on Easter definitely worked to my advantage. We were back on the road home before 12:30 p.m., and that's after putzing around a bit. I was even able to make Easter dinner at my aunt's house.

The dogs did great. Secret brought home QQ #3 and Kaiser earned an unofficial QQ and now needs just one more Q in Excellent Standard before he gets to start the countdown for his PACH.

Secret was up first in the Standard ring. The 24" class was scheduled to start at 8:30 (Time 2 Beat started at 8:00 in the other ring), but it ended up being pushed back past 9:00 a.m. because they had to wait for the teeter out of the T2B ring. I have no idea why, I would think that Think Pawsitive has more than one, but whatever. I crated out of the car and did not bring any crates inside this time. There was plenty of room that I could have, but I didn't even bring any spare ones along. This may have been a bad idea, as I do think that maybe Secret does benefit from having some time to decompress in the trial environment. I think it's hard for her to go straight from the car to the ring without getting used to everything going on around her.

I did my best to get her revved up before her run, but it was pretty pokey. Weaves at the start are never fun for us, and then they were followed almost immediately by one of the dreaded Think Pawsitive tunnels. I will NEVER understand why, but Secret just hates tunnels at this place. And god help us, they are always like 30' long (seriously, they are the longest tunnels I have ever seen). She came trotting out of the tunnel under the dog walk, but thankfully she did pick it up nicely at that point.

She was happy and barky at the table and had a great finish to this course. Like most people, I was really struggling with how I would handle the triple after the a-frame. For reference sake, the chute after the triple changed places with the jump following it, if that would play into your handling choices at all. The off course jump 18 was a VERY attractive option for many dogs. Most people were opting to stay on the right side of the triple and rear cross the jump, but there were lots of errors in this area. I ended up pushing hard, did a blind after the a-frame and ran up past the triple and it worked beautifully. I also got in a nice front cross in the tight space between 17 & 18, which resulted in a much nicer line than the multitudes of people doing a rear cross on the landing side of 18 -- more often than not this move resulted in the dog face-planting and sliding on the turf before finishing their course.

Secret picked up 15 speed points (definitely a bit low) and 4th place on this run. Despite it being a smaller trial, the 24" class was HUGE! This is likely due to the club being hosted by the Doberman Pinscher Club and also having the Rottweiler National Specialty being ran at the same trial.

Kaiser's JWW run was up next in the other ring, but blessedly I had zero conflicts at this trial and felt like I was able to give everyone the attention they needed. I led out to jump 2 to help get a nice turn and avoid the off course that would be more likely if I was running after him. He did great with this, but then stalled so long in the tunnel (yet another 50' tunnel....) that I started to worry that he was going to come out the entrance -- if he would come out at all.... I heard several people grumbling about their dog getting "stuck" in that tunnel, so who knows if there was something in it or what.

At any rate, he did come out the proper end and we continued on. I did a front cross on the landing side of six, taking care to rotate enough so that I wouldn't push him straight over the off course jump. He had his typical lovely weaves and I went ahead and threw a blind at him between 10 and 11 since there weren't really any off course options in front of him. From there it was pretty straight forward. He's twitchy around tunnels, so I didn't push to get in front of him after 17 and just did the rear cross at 18. The 8" Performance Masters class was actually quite good-sized at this trial, but Kaiser was the only one to Q so he picked up 1st place and 16 speed points.

Secret's JWW run was next on the schedule. I knew blinds would work well for her pretty much everywhere on this course, so that's what we did. If I thought she was pokey on the first run, this one was worse. She came trotting out of the never-ending tunnel and never really picked up speed like she usually will. Of course, this wasn't a very motivating course with her the way it was split up with tunnel, weave, tunnel with a few jumps in between. I was ahead of her at jump 13 when I looked back and she darn near refused it before hurtling herself over it in a not terribly graceful manner. After that I made sure to support the triple and the double that followed, and then I zipped in place for a blind between 17 and 18, which did seem to light a little fire under her butt. But then we were done, so.... However, AKC does reward consistency, and consistent we were --- So Secret picked up her third QQ and six speed points. She seems to average 10 points in JWW (highest was 15, lowest before this was 7), so I mean I guess it could have been worse. At any rate, I called the chiropractor this morning and she has two appointments before the big 3-day trial in La Crosse. I know she's way overdue.

I think Secret was done by 10:30! Then we just had to wait a bit for Kaiser's Standard run -- and because he's still in Excellent, he was one of the very last Masters dogs to run. I so badly want for him to be in Masters that I had to try very hard to make myself not hover and handle him like a freak. We had a few, "OMG, did she call that?" moments on this course. On the teeter he did what's becoming a bad habit -- rode the tipping point down to the ground and then jumped off the side. Thankfully he had a paw in the yellow, so yay for the Klee Kai, I guess.

I *wanted* the little stinker to hold his wait on the bottom of the dog walk so that I could get ahead a bit to support the table, but Kaiser didn't think that was a good idea. Thankfully he DID think the table was a good idea and actually jumped on it and stayed there. I had no problem leading out from the table to be on the right side of the next jump and then I pushed hard on the a-frame and was well ahead and in place for a front cross before the triple. My little off course king managed to not go off course in the hardest part! Yay! I was too hesitant and didn't feel like I could make the front cross at the end without pushing him to the dummy jump, so I chickened out and did one of the bad rear crosses like everyone else. It worked, except then Kaiser said, "forget you" and was going to leave to go get his treats --- leaving the ring in AKC is a VERY BAD THING and even if they come back in that's an E. He didn't make it ALL the way out between the two gates and I didn't hear a whistle, but I honestly had no idea until the results were posted if we had a Q or not. We did! Hooray! That's 2/3, so hopefully we can wrap up that title in La Crosse!

Kizzy came along for the ride because the trial info said that there would be a VMO present. I never saw anyone measuring, but nor did I ask, so we're still waiting on that second measurement. I made sure to get her out several times and took her in to show her the rings between Master & Open. She did fine, probably largely because of what we did on Saturday:

We went back up to the Experimental Forest and this time the stupid snow & mud was gone! It was a beautiful day on Saturday -- It was the first time we hit 70 degrees in OVER SIX MONTHS. How depressing is that? We have the longest winters ever...

We ended up hiking 6.2 miles! Normally I try not to do anything "too active" the day before a trial, but I was worried that if we didn't do something the dogs would never go to sleep that night (and we need to go to bed early for that drive, so...). And once you make the drive somewhere to hike, you feel like you may as well take advantage of it. We ended up going all the way to the end of this trail, which was just under 3 miles, then we hit up an extra bit of field road on the way back to make sure that we would hit 6 miles, because I like even numbers.  :o)  We saw a few people up there that day, but no dogs. Everyone had a great time and miraculously, I have not found any ticks.... (Knock on wood)

Tonight I set up the giant arch of hoops in the yard -- six hoops (and one jump standard without a bar) spanning the radius of the yard. The only purpose of this exercise is for everyone to run as fast as they can, and I think this is just what everyone needed. Everyone was hauling ass, which was good to see. I feel Kaiser's been being more "careful" at trials lately, so it was nice to see him flatten out again. And Secret, holy hell, she can really move (if only she'd do it at trials...).

I kept Kizzy's sessions very short and never did the full arch with her. Her first turn was with a toy and she was doing great -- until she wasn't, and she left with her head up sniffing at something in the corner. There was something in the air tonight, as Kaiser kept getting pulled that way as well. I somehow, by some lucky fate, managed to snag her collar as she tried to bolt past me when I went to catch her and end the fun (that she ended by choosing to leave me). Oh, was she MAD!!! That was NOT in her plan. I just scooped her up, carried her into the house and stuck her through the door and had Luke come out for his turn. I kept Kizzy's second turn VERY short with just a couple of runs. I scooped her up while she was playing tug and then fed her a bunch of yummy treats before putting her back in the house. I had just a few treats left over after Kaiser's second turn, so I had Kizzy come out once more and take a few short passes for food, ending with a collar grab while she ate treats. I definitely need to continue to end the fun when she chooses to leave the game, but it is so stinking hard to catch her. Totally lucked out tonight....

We'll keep playing this game. It's good for everyone! Sometimes I get so caught up in the fun handling stuff that I forget how important basic speed work can be.

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