Tika entered the team competition with Brenn the Border Collie and Skeeter the not-so-exciteable Australian Cattle Dog as "Three's A Charm". The name comes from our previous three tries:
First TryIn our first attempt at the enormous 4-day combined Haute Dawgs/TRACS (hence "Haute TRACS") trial, there were scribing and score tabling glitches galore. Tika had a good weekend even if we didn't get tons of points in the gamble. But Brenn got stuck with an offcourse in Jumpers and Skeeter in the Relay and we were history. That was our "Tika Skeetering on the Border" incarnation, where we discovered that they hadn't recorded one of our Es and we reported it and hence dropped from Qing nicely to NQing.
Second TryFor our second attempt, Skeeter had already promised to run with someone else, so we subbed in the excellent Molly and her handler--whose knee gave out partway through the day, and both Tika and Molly were offcourse in Jumpers and I think we all blew Snooker and then we just blew off Relay because we didn't want Molly's mom killing herself when we were pretty much down near the bottom anyway. That was our "At The Last Minute"--no, something similar--incarnation. But Skeeter Qed with her team, so now it was just Brenn and Tika wanting to get that Q for the nationals in Scottsdale.
Third TryFor our third attempt, Skeeter was back with us and we didn't want to reuse a name that seemed jinxed, so we became "Three's a Charm", both for the third time and for the three dogs. There, we all held on, with Tika's scores not being noteworthy but the other two doing well, until I Eed in the three-dog relay, but we still had done well enough earlier that we Qed.
Fourth TrySo this was our fourth time; we wanted to do it for fun and practice keeping our heads together. Once again, we weren't all in synch.
Gamblers: Tika had a very good gamblers run but Brenn missed contacts and/or weaves again AND got greedy and placed near the bottom, which is not quite as bad as an E but down there, and Skeeter, who isn't fast, did well for Skeeter but below average--still OK. But we were 57th of the 72 teams competing, not a good way to start. All of our events for the weekend would have to combine for at least 36th to Q for nationals.
Standard: Then Skeeter Eed (offcourse) in the Standard run, which is 130 points right off (low score is better here). Tika took the Standard run as an opportunity to go visit a vendor before returning to the ring, so with that wasted time and faults, we were over 60 seconds, still better than losing 130 for an E, but not great. But even so, we were 46th of as a team 72--I had expected our team to be much lower in the Standard, but I guess a lot of people had trouble with that course. The weird thing about Team is that your placements in each event don't have to be super-high, as long as you're consistently somewhere in the middle ground or higher. So we weren't great, but we weren't dead in the water... yet...
Jumpers: Pleasantly, we all stayed on course in Jumpers, although Tika and Brenn both had bars down. So our team was 28th in Jumpers, nicely above the middle point of 36th, and things were looking up.
Snooker: But then we watched in amazement as all of the hotshot dogs in the known universe crapped out in the Snooker run. I was working score table for that. The USDAA accumulator sheets have about 4 columns set up for "25 pts or less" and we ended up stealing 5 or 6 additional columns for all the dogs with low points. It was astonishing. I hadn't thought it was that challenging a course, really, and started to get nervous. Tika was the first of our team to run--and what very cool was that Tika made it all the way through--blew off her final #7 A-frame but still we had more points than most dogs, and then Brenn and Skeeter both made it ALL the way through, so our team was 3rd of 72 in the snooker competition, which really gave us a pick-me up. If Tika hadn't blown off the A-frame, we'd have been 2nd for Snooker! Even against this phenomenal field of competitors! So, it was muy cool to have accomplished 3rd.
Relay: As a result, we were in 20th after the first 4 classes, and we just had to hold it together for the relay to keep in the Q range--and we did! Tika had a refusal AND a 5-point fault (now I'm not remembering exactly what for, but it's still MUCH better than losing 150 for an E), and Brenn had a bar down. But no Es. In the relay itself, we placed 24th, but combining the five classes, we ended up at 16th of 72 teams; somewhere over 36 Qed, so we were well in there.
Looking at the numbers afterwards, we were still in the point range where, if one of us had Eed early in our relay run and hustled back to the start line to hand over the baton, we'd probably still have Qed, but if one had Eed late in our runs without being able to make it up a little in time by rushing back, we'd have NQed. We were that close--you needed 878 points to qualify, and if our relay run had used the same amount of total time PLUS an E, we'd have had 877! So we'd have probably pulled it out, but being absolutely sure beats the one-toenail-in-Q-territory method.