Sunday, July 6, 2014

AKC update -- QQ #5 & #6!

We had a super fun couple of days over in New Berlin playing AKC agility this weekend! Luke stayed with my parents and Secret, Kaiser, Kizzy & myself left for Think Pawsitive at 4:45 a.m. on Friday. Kizzy wasn't entered in this trial, but I find it much easier and less worrisome to bring her along with us. Plus she travels well and can share a crate with Kaiser, so it's no burden to schlep her along to these trials. As a bonus, it was cool enough both days that I was able to take Kizzy out to the car while Kaiser or Secret had their turns, as that appears to be when she makes the most noise (when I take one away). It worked out quite well!

I had two trials to pick from this weekend that were pretty much equi-distance apart. The other was at a place called Vadnais Heights up near the Cities, which is a facility that I've always wanted to check out. It's a big soccer dome with a lot of natural lighting and I bet Kaiser would run well there because of that. The Western Waukesha Dog Training Club trial at Think Pawsitive won out, though, because of the judges. I've come to believe that MN trials bring in the most boring judges ever, and I while I didn't know much about Ronda Bermke (one of the judges in New Berlin), I do have experience with Carol Kramer Smorch and I felt confident that she would present us with some fun challenges.

And I was correct! I enjoyed all four of the courses we saw over the two days. It was a nice, relatively small trial (around 350 runs between the two rings each day).

Our day on Friday started with JWW in Carol's ring. We pulled in around 7:45 and our ring didn't start running until 8:30, so we had plenty of time to settle in and relax a bit. I strongly debated just crating out of the car, but despite staying in the 70s the sun was pretty strong on Friday and I opted to set up camp indoors since there was plenty of crating space at the time. I think it's good for Secret to have a chance to settle in the trial environment as well, instead of just going straight from the car into the ring.

Kaiser was up first. I led out to get the front cross between 2 & 3, then I went for the blind between 7 & 8 and again between 9 & 10 since there wasn't much risk involved in doing so. I stayed ahead in the weaves so that I could cross between 13 & 14. I think it was my pushing to get into position for the next cross between 15 & 16 that caused him to pop and land on jump 16. I went for the blended front cross on the wrap at 18 with Kaiser, but he went super wide at 17 and it wasn't as pretty as it could have been. The little stinker squirted out the ring gates but we didn't get whistled; maybe they don't whistle if you've NQ'd? Who knows.

Secret had a great run! I did as much of a throw-n-go as I could by standing at the top side of #1 to allow me to get ahead enough to fit in a blind between 2 & 3. From there it was pretty much just all a bunch of fun blind crosses. I was quite happy with her weaves in this run as well -- they were actually pretty good all weekend! Perhaps because the blended hadn't worked as well with Kaiser, I opted for the inside wrap at 18 with Secret. Due to her propensity to stop short on wraps like this due to my lack of movement, I perhaps exaggerated my movement a bit too much, causing her to jump big and long instead of a nice tight wrap. Oh well, better than a refusal. She ended up with 4th place and 7 speed points in that run.

The timing of walk-throughs was not friendly to my schedule of having a dog in 8" and a dog in 24" this weekend. They were running 4/8/12/24/26 and then 16/20. Because of the staggered starts of the rings, they always ended up building the Std ring between my JWW runs with each dog. On Friday they opened up the Std ring for a "general" walk-through until the 12" dogs finished in JWW, so I was able to get mine done then, and I think I caught the tail end of the actual walk-through for the 4/8/12 group. On Saturday I ended up with my own private (quick) walk-through because they were holding the ring to walk until 5 minutes after the 12" dogs finished running in the other ring, which meant they would be walking pretty much exactly when I was getting/running/cooling out Secret. Carol let me walk by myself, thank goodness, as apparently not many people have the same problem I do with having an 8" and 24" dog.  ;o)

This was a fun Std course. both dogs did just great with the flip off the dog walk into the tunnel, a skill that is rarely practiced in this house (especially considering the dog walk is still in the garage this year). Kaiser got a front cross before the triple and Secret got a blind. During Kaiser's run I almost peeled away from the weaves a little too early in my rush to beat him to the table, but thankfully he stayed in them (although I definitely remembered this for Secret's run!). I left Kaiser to do his thing on the a-frame so that I could beat him to the table and this was successful in getting him to hit the brakes when he hit it. Yay for staying on tables! I do need to drag the table up from the basement, though, to work on this. Even Secret could use a refresher -- while she continues to nail each and every table and land in a down, she's gotten into the habit of popping up to bark at me. This is fine in AKC, which is why I've let it go, but it will bite us if we ever get around to doing USDAA again.

I opted to do the teeter line from the top/right with both dogs. Oddly enough, I was one of the few who chose this plan, as most people ran the line from the bottom/left. I suppose it's because of the call of chute down there, but I didn't have a problem with either dog looking at it and I was more concerned about getting the correct tunnel entry (although I don't recall this being much of an issue for those that chose the bottom path).

Lots and lots of dogs shot forward to the off course jump after the chute, as well as to the off course jump after 17. I did front crosses there (no blinds!) to ensure connection with the dogs and they each did a great job. Secret got a Q (QQ #5!) and 19 speed points with 2nd place. Kaiser got 1st place with 26 speed points.

We got done super early. I think the dogs were done running by 10:30 a.m. I had signed up to work the Open & Novice Std classes and also stepped in to work the 16"/20" Std class since I was there and available. I figured we wouldn't be able to check into the hotel anyhow, so I may as well keep myself busy at the trial and get free lunch out of the deal.  :o)

We checked into the hotel a bit before 3:00 and then we went and found a Petco in town since I forgot to bring poop bags (or so I thought, I ended up finding some later) and I forgot to bring Secret's water dish back from the trial so that we'd have something at the hotel. I also picked up some hooves for the hotel and pig ears for later. It was probably cool enough that I could have left everyone in the car, but why not go nuts and take three dogs into Petco? They were actually really well-behaved. And this particular Petco was completely dead and we were the only ones in the store, so there was no reason for them to act crazy or anything. It was interesting to see a different store after having the perspective of working at the one in La Crosse. I think our store is much better....

After securing poop bags, I plugged another address into the Garmin to help us find a trail system that I'd found online. We ended up taking a nice little 4+ mile hike on the Glacial Drumline trail that afternoon. I wish we had something like that around here! It's similar to our bike trail system, except that it's paved. It would be a really nice running trail. There was even a spot where we were able to access a little river and the dogs were able to go in and cool off. It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon and we'll definitely have to remember that.

The dogs were nice and chill for the rest of the evening and just chewed on their hooves in the hotel room. I fell asleep probably around 9:00 and woke up around 11:30 to take the dogs out -- so far as I'm aware, we never heard any fireworks. Sweet! Perfect 4th of July, IMO.

We started out again with JWW on Saturday, again with the small dogs running first. I'm not a fan of any time a course has me running in a circle due to the complete lack of forward impulsion it lets me create with running, but I thought 1-9 on this course was super fun!

I led out again with Kaiser to give me a shot at fitting in a front cross after 3, then another front between 5 & 6 before wrapping him around the far wing of 6. From there it was a pretty straight shot to the end. His jumping was not super steller on the circle part, but he got through it and left the bars up. I stayed on the inside after the weaves and picked him up and carried him to the leash bucket after the run to make sure the little stinker didn't squirt out the gate again and lose a Q. Kaiser got 1st and 16 speed points on this run.

Secret did really well, too! I did blinds between 3 & 4 and 5 & 6, but then did did turn into her for a front on 6 to get a nice tight turn. I hesitated a bit in the circle part to allow me to sprint forward again to create a little more impulsion from her through that sequence. I led out enough in the weaves to allow me to get ahead for the cross before 18, simply because I know she hates me crossing her path at the finish line. Secret picked up another Q and 8 speed points this time. It was a fast course for our entire class, though, and she just missed out on placements this time (5th place).

I almost feel compelled to do an entire post on Carol's Std run from yesterday (which I probably should do for as long as this is!). This was an INCREDIBLY deceptive course on paper. When I picked it up in the morning I was a little let down, as I thought Carol would throw more at us than this. Silly me. This course had an amazingly low Q-rate, and for many, many, many reasons. Almost every where you looked there was an off-course option presented. The majority of the NQs probably originated at the first tunnel entry -- the dogs were pointed straight at the wrong entry and it didn't seem to matter if you handled from the top or bottom. Each were equally as likely to go wrong it seemed. The weave entry got a lot of people as well. Either dogs went off course to the tire (especially those with running contacts), or they hit the entry bad, or they popped when a handler did a rear cross. Next, NUMEROUS dogs took the off-course double after the weaves instead of getting that nice tight turn to 11. Several dogs then went to the a-frame after the tire instead of getting the turn to jump 13. Lest you think your challenges are done when you hit the table, you still had the off-course jump to contend with from the last tunnel to the dog walk. It was a seriously challenging (and fun!) course. Kudos to Carol, I really do like her courses.

I hadn't gotten much of a walk-through with Kaiser but I won't blame that for our troubles.  :o)  I started on the bottom/left with him and led out. He shot ahead of me to the teeter and I thought for sure he was going to fly off, but he hit the brakes at the last second and rode the teeter down. Good boy! When I called "out tunnel" to push him to the correct entry he thought for a second that I surely meant "out chute" and veered in that direction. I don't think that was called, though. I again raced him over the a-frame to beat him to the weaves and he hit his entry nicely. I hung back too much to pull him off the frame after the tire and he was ahead of me going to the table and bounced it. Sigh. Then he left the table early, too. Stinker. Nice finish, though! Kaiser's QQ count remains at 0.

I had the opportunity to walk the course again before Secret's run, which I really appreciated after having the opportunity to see where all of the traps were. I ran with her on the right and blind crossed the teeter exit. I was well ahead of her going over jump 5 and thought it would be an easy push into the tunnel, but she was starting to dive behind me into the wrong end. I did one of my awful "NO" screeches and she stopped dead and looked up at me. lol Poor dog. I had no idea if anything was called or not, but I chucked her in the correct entrance and we took off again. I beat her over the frame into the weaves and then threw in a blind after the tire to keep the forward momentum and pull her away from the off-course a-frame. I then opted to run the wall side of the dog walk to pull her away from the off course jump (which was REALLY close for the big dogs especially). She nailed her dog walk and sailed over the triple for a lovely finish. The peanut gallery confirmed that nothing was called at the tunnel and that it was a clean run. QQ #6 with 2nd place and 14 speed points. Whew. That was fun!

I packed everything up and stuck the dogs in the car, then worked the 16" class since I had to wait for results anyhow. We were still on the road by 11:30! I brought Luke home after going to dinner at my parent's house (my brother is in town with his family) and everyone was happy to be together again. I think Kaiser, especially, always feels a little lost on these overnight trips without his Luke.

And while this post is already far too long, I cannot let it go without celebrating Kizzy's one-year anniversary with us! Yesterday (July 5) was the one-year anniversary of the phone call I got saying that she had shown up back at the shelter again. The little dog that had been missing for over 9 months and was thought to be dead was, in fact, quite alive and at the shelter again! We will never know what she was up to for all of those months, but I feel so lucky to have her now. Who would have ever thought that would have been the end result during those weeks that we were looking for her? There have certainly been challenges, but it's also been incredibly rewarding. I wouldn't have done anything different with regard to my decision to keep her -- because it's not that I think I'm more capable than anyone else, but I just don't know that there are too many people out there who would want to deal with her (or at least how she was a year ago). Kizzy has come a long way in the past year and is a wonderful little dog. I'm hopeful that we'll continue to grow as a team in this coming year and that she'll do great things in agility.  :o)

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