SUMMARY: I'm discouraged about Nationals. And an interesting Standard Course on Saturday.
- Of the 52 dogs entered in Saturday's 22" Masters Standard class, there were 6 Aussies, one Aussie cross, one Australian Cattle Dog, and one over-the-top Tervuren. The rest were Border Collies. Somehow this depresses me, even though one of them is my own sweetie, The Booster herself.
- Of the 23 in 26", a "mere" half were Border Collies. More variety here: Three Aussies, a Rough Collie, a Whippet, a Terv, a Catahoula Leopard Dog, a German Shepherd, a Golden Retriever, and three mixed breeds.
- If Tika's Top Ten Standard points were on the USDAA standings page right now, she'd be tied for 21st (with 25 points). But the stats are a month behind at the moment, and I know for a fact that at least 3 of the people on that list have had at least 3 more weekends of placements (including this weekend's Sunday Standard). So we're still soooo not there.
- Why am I bothering with Grand Prix at Nationals? Tika almost never runs clean. When she does, the gap between her time and the winning times is getting slowly wider and wider. I don't think that she's slowing down much--her times are still fairly consistently in the 4.5 to 4.9 yards per second range. But her time--while excited--on this weekend's course was 5 and a half seconds slower than the fastest dog. That's nearly 20% slower. Twenty percent! I think that the younger, faster dogs keep coming in faster and faster. The only reason that we earned a 1st in Standard was because all the other 26" dogs knocked bars or crapped out. Sure, running clean on that course was a good thing. But she was still 6 seconds slower than the fastest dogs. Six! That's an eternity.
- On the other hand, we can do Team. Because, in team, bar-knocking matters so much less than off-coursing, and we're pretty good about staying on course. And because we can usually rack up points in gambles by picking good strategies and executing smoothly. Still, I think that last year's Finals appearance was a fluke--that, once again, we lucked out that the fast teams happened to hit courses where they crapped out, and we just kept plugging along and got lucky that none of us had a bad run. Seems SO unlikely that that will happen again this year.
- So why the heck am I going and spending all that time and money? This weekend has only discouraged me. That, plus the fact of having been unable to qualify Tika in Steeplechase, and of having only one dog to run for the first time out of my assorted 8 Nationals appearances. Instead of looking forward to a relaxed week, I'm feeling like I'm slipping, my dogs are slipping, my expectations are too high.
- Maybe I'm just tired. Exhausted. It was SO hard to drag out of bed and do Boot Camp this morning, but I did it.
- Are local people NUTS? While I (and I'm not the only one I've heard say so) am burning out on so much agility and time and money, local clubs, including mine, are working FOUR more USDAA trials into the yearly schedule! One argument was that there will be "only" three DAM team events in the Bay Area next year, so a fourth would be good. Jeez--I remember when there used to be one every other year in the Bay Area. One of the usual September trials hereabouts actually LOST money this time--it was the last qualifier of the year, and I suspect that people (like me) had either qualified already or just wanted a break between the Labor Day regionals and the other 3 USDAA trials running alternate weekends from now through Nationals. Can this area really support that many USDAA trials, on top of the CPE, AKC, and ASCA? And now a couple of clubs are doing DOCNA, too!
Saturday's StandardSo, what was Saturday's Master Standard that wiped out so many dogs? Here ya go.
- There were some problems with bars, offcourses, and refusals from 3 to 4 because of the sharp turn. Some people pulled and rear crossed 4 or ran behind the tunnel, others got ahead on the teeter and front crossed between 3 and 4. That worked nicely for both of my dogs; I think that was the better option if you could do it.
- Some offcourses shooting out of #4 and getting a paw onto the dogwalk before the handler could get to the end of #4 or call the dog off.
- A lot of dogs coming off the dogwalk headed for the tunnel instead of the tire. I don't think that anyone expected that, but probably because of the extreme angle of the tire, dogs coming of the dogwalk, with the handler running behind trying to catch up, really didn't see any obstacles except the tunnel. After watching a bunch of those, I ran on the left side of the dogwalk, figuring that then she'd be erring toward looking at me. Instead, when she didn't stick her contact or wait for me (argh, she *also* took a couple of steps towards the tunnel, but at least I was in a position to call her off instead of trying to handle it from behind.
- The 8-9-10 seqence vexed many people; quite a few popped weaves because the handler hung back to make a break for #9; knocked bars or runouts on #9; offcourses after 9 or around 9 onto the Aframe (yes!) or into the wrong side of #10.
- There were quite a few knocked bars in the 11-13 sequence, particularly 11, I believe (it wasn't a straight line from 10 to 12).
- Problems of many varieties in the 16-19 sequence. It was mu subjective opinion that people who could put a front cross between the chute and #17 and therefore push out to #18 had a better chance of avoiding knocking 17 or having a runout when the dog pulled inside #18.
- Seems to me that there were issues in the 18-19-20, as well, but I don't recall anything sticking out in particular. Some people got a front cross in before 19 (I did) and I thought it worked more smoothly than sending to #18 and running on the chute side of 19, because if you were behind your dog there, you risked a bar down when trying to push or pull from behind--unless the dog is really accustomed to working like that.