Monday, May 5, 2014

Weekend Catch-Up

Did your weekend consist of anything other than watching the International Team Tryouts (ITT, formerly known as WTT, or World Team Tryouts) on the internet? If your answer is yes, then you accomplished WAY more than I did this weekend. After a solid week of rain we finally had a couple of days of BEAUTIFUL spring weather, and I spent the vast majority of it sitting in front of a computer screen.

I had contemplated (quite seriously so) making the drive to Hopkins, MN to watch the event in person for the first time ever. This was the first year I would have ever had the opportunity to do so, as in previous years I've always had to work. When it was announced that the entire thing would be broadcast on the internet, though, I couldn't really justify the gas money and time spent away from my own dogs who never see me. Not only that, but watching it on the internet very likely presented me with a better view of the action than I would have had in person. Win-win!

I watched EVERY SINGLE RUN of the entire weekend. Okay, I might have fast-forwarded through a couple by the end of the day Sunday... It was a lot of runs and I had to watch The Amazing Race.  ;o)

There were many of the teams you would expect to see at an event of such caliber. Some of the teams, though, just made me scratch my head. I consider AKC Nationals an event for all dogs. If you work hard enough you can qualify, go, and if you run three clean runs you may just have a shot at the finals -- even if you don't have the fastest dog there. But this is the tryouts for two major International teams. Teams that are expected to showcase the best agility that this country has to offer. It is beyond my comprehension, then, why some teams would choose to travel completely across the country with a dog who doesn't have a shot in hell at making the team. Spend your money at Nationals. Go and have fun -- but what are you proving by attending tryouts with a dog that gets 15 time faults on every go-round (I'm not pointing fingers, this would be Secret!)? And not only that, by the end of the weekend you could TOTALLY tell what dogs were just not familiar with this style of agility -- several were just shutting down and completely demotivated by Sunday. What is the motivation of these handlers, I wonder. What are they trying to prove?

Speaking of time faults, though -- Holy bejezus. If I thought that the course times in UKI CH Jumpers were tight, they've got nothing on what's expected of a team at ITT! Maybe that is part of the problem. Maybe some of these "average" teams run very comfortable times at regular trials on more flowing courses. I'm sure it's kind of a "holy shit" moment to put in what you thought was an amazing run on a very tight & twisty course and then find out you had time faults. There were some SMOKING runs that I saw -- Runs that would win any local-level trial and likely have like 30 speed points -- and they were over SCT. Seeing that basically ingrains in my head that I will never attempt to enter ITT without a truly speedy dog. At least not in the 26" class. The lower heights were slightly more forgiving, but not much so. The Klee Kai could probably do it.  ;o)  Too bad Kaiser can't jump that high and Kizzy is light-years away from competing at that level (let's be real, competing in general, lol).

I would love the opportunity to travel and do agility abroad some day, but it's looking like it will be a while before I have to worry about that. Maybe by then I'll have an extra week of vacation at work to blow on travel. Ha!

I did do slightly more than sit on my butt in front of the computer (but not much). I was perusing Facebook Saturday morning between classes at ITT and came across this course map posted by a friend attending a trial down in Chicago. She keeps telling me that I have to go down there to an AKC trial because they get all of the fun judges who bring challenging courses. Apparently it's what people down there ask for -- versus up here where people with bitch and sob if you have a backside or 270 on course.

When I saw this course map I could not pass up the chance to give this course a try. It was like our own fun little piece of ITT at home (because the ITT courses are 140' long and don't fit in my yard). It was SO FUN. Kaiser was the only one to get it on the first try. Secret was a little high at first and it took us a bit to connect -- plus I always run her first for some reason, so she has to deal with me figuring out the course, too.

I elected to run Kizzy with food the whole time to work on her focus. I broke the course up into sections and eventually put it all together and she actually did it! Yay little crazy dog!

On Sunday I just set up a big speed circle with seven or eight jumps and then plunked the weaves in the middle of the yard to work on those, too. Jumps were set at everyone's competition height to get them thinking a bit more than when they just blaze through the hoops on the ground. Secret did great at 24". It's good for her to learn to go over big jumps fast.  :o)  Her weaves were also super nice, which I haven't seen for a while.

I think Secret's chiro appointment made a world of difference. I can tell she feels so much better, so I have to try hard not to let her get so overdue in the future. Then, of course, I went and flushed it all down the toilet with our frisbee game tonight -- where Secret had a misstep and ended up going ass-over-teakettle on one of her catches.... Oooooh, it just made me cringe. She seems pretty tough, though, and didn't seem affected by it. It's probably a good thing we have another adjustment coming up next week!


  1. I was stuck in an airport all day on Sunday, literally from 10am to 6pm eastern time, and was able to watch the entire big dog class on the live stream! I know what you mean about some of the dogs really not needing to be there. After you watch 100 dogs run a course, you wish you could have a shot at it too. I marveled at some of the handler's strategies sometimes - wondering how they thought "that" was going to work!

  2. There was one dog -- a rather large and clumsy-looking golden retriever -- that came to the line for the first class on Saturday. They did two obstacles and the handler withdrew. The dog was obviously not feeling it and perhaps this is extremely out of character for the team (at least I hope he normally is much faster....). At any rate, they were listed as being from California. They did not run the rest of the weekend. God that must just suck to travel all that way for two obstacles....

    Many handlers seemed to opt for similar handling styles in most parts of the courses. It sure was exciting when someone came in and tried something different -- when it works you are awe-struck. When it doesn't you are like, "WTF?" lol I saw several handlers get lost on course -- is this nerves or unfamiliarity with running that style course, or both? Who knows. I probably shouldn't judge until I'm there -- but again, I'm not going to enter unless I feel I have a dog up to the task. Did some of these people not know what they were getting into? I can't imagine how that could be possible...

    I loved it when anything "not a border collie" did well in the 26" class. Like Luna the Malinois winning the one round, that was just awesome. And a really nice golden retriever with some Esteban guy that I've heard of before but can't recall his name... Missed a couple of the usual faces like Tori and Daisy this year, though. Good thing we still had Rosanne, Dudley, etc. to look forward to. :o)

    1. I have heard from a couple people I know who have attended the tryouts that it's the best agility experience they have ever had. Maybe that feeling is what brings people in from all over, even though they know they dont have a chance at making the team.
      I know that when you attend, you have to sign something that says if you are selected, that you would go. Not sure if I could agree to flying my dog overseas somewhere - that would be a tough decision.
      Envy's sister from the previous litter was there competing with her mom Dudley, and she did really well for a baby dog. I hope to be able to get that kind of speed and jumping ability from Envy but who knows. Maybe I would attend one of these if I thought I could be a little competitive. Envy's aunt 'Trick' did make the team in the 26" group!
      I also liked to see the non BCs do well. That Malinois could really move!

    2. Envy is related to Bird? Whoa, cool!! :) She's such a nice young dog -- she'll obviously go far in the sport. It will be fun to see what Envy does, too!

      I'll shoot for the team with a small dog -- the odds seem better. ;)

    3. Yeah, Bird is Envy's sister, just from the previous litter - they look very much alike, though Bird is a smooth coat. She is setting the bar high for us all!
      I agree that shooting for the small dog group may be easier but definitely not easy!

  3. Doesn't your dog need a pedigree with like 3 generations listed to try out? Even if I had a dog fast enough, that will eliminate us every time :(

    And what is the point of that, other than to discriminate against mixes and rescues?

    1. One of the teams requires the pedigree, but the other is open to mixed breeds -- there were a few All Americans at ITT this year. Roo was in the 26" class and then there were a couple of mediums (one was a local border-staffy).

      I wondered, though, what they would do about the Klee Kai. They are pedigreed and the international shows aren't AKC. Would the Klee Kai be able to go?? (Not that it matters because Kizzy was never registered. )

      In AKC's defense, it's not their rule.

    2. Good to know, but likely a non issue for us!

  4. I didn't watch any of it, but heard that there was some really exceptionally wonky stuff in some of the courses (i.e. multiple backside jumps into really difficult sequences) that isn't showing up in your weekend courses. You expect some things to be different at an event like this, but if your dog is doing well enough on the weekends to be able to qualify to go you'd expect that they would be able to handle what will be thrown at them.

    This info did not come from one of my NADAC friends but from someone who's competed at AKC for years. She said at one point she just couldn't watch any more.

    I guess at some point when everything becomes International Style my only choice will be to move on to other sports. So much for my retirement plans. Sigh.


    1. WTT/ITT has always had "international-style" courses because these teams are being sent to countries that run that style of agility. While some areas of this country are seeing slightly more "international-flavor" courses (with maybe a backside or two), most of us are still qualifying on relatively flowing "USA-style" courses.

      Honestly, the qualifying criteria for being accepted to ITT is a bit off. You can qualify by getting certain placements on a handful of ISC courses at special events (where the courses would be on the same level as what are presented at ITT) -- or (likely the majority) you can qualify with a certain number of clean runs and QQs with a certain YPS average. It's not really "fair" (to the dog?) when you think that those YPS could be achieved on open, flowing courses completely unlike what are presented at ITT (like the Master JWW course I had once that could literally have been an Open NADAC Jumpers course with a set of weave poles plunked in it). One of the problems with AKC is the complete and total lack of consistency in course design/challenges from judge to judge.

      I would hope that your average weekend AKC competitor contemplating attending ITT would be aware of the differences between AKC and International agility. AKC fields the team that is sent overseas, but they most certainly do not design the courses in those competitions. It would hardly be fair to anyone to have the ITT courses be similar to a regular weekend of agility and then have those teams go to Europe and be completely and totally overfaced.

      If you go to ITT expecting to see courses similar to what you see on a normal weekend, you haven't done your research. Even the courses you see at Nationals are a little ramped up from your normal weekend -- and ITT is that x10. Heck, I think the courses were still "tame" compared to what these teams could encounter overseas!

      I don't think you ever have to worry about "everything becoming International-style" because there are too many people that bitch and moan about it. I don't see NADAC, CPE or ASCA ever moving anywhere near that direction, so you will always have options. :o) Even AKC will eventually have to get that "C-class" going because of all the people who bitch about the backsides that are starting to appear.

    2. I guess that's what I was trying to say ..... maybe they need the qualifying requirements to be different. It is totally unfair to the dogs.

      Since the vast majority of people playing agility are weekend warriors with no desire or expectation to ever be on a world team it would be a little difficult to expect everyone to accept those courses for the few.

      My only goal is to have fun with my dog and for her to still be able to run agility when she's 13 years old.

      I've heard from others that back side jumps are showing up in CPE already.