SUMMARY: Tika's aches, Boost's weaves, generally an OK day.
It's funny that a day with no qualifying scores and with Tika turning up too sore to run again can end up feeling so successful.
Last night when we got home, I put Boost through some weaves, which she of course did perfectly. Then I really revved her up, held back on her collar, whacked at her with a toy that she just couldn't quite get, blasted her through the same tunnel twice and then launched her at the weaves--and Lo! she missed her entry! Whereupon I picked her right up (which she grumbled about) and walked her around telling her to cut out being lazy about her entries. And then I hoped the lesson would stick for the morning.
Pairs Relay: Tika had a lovely run in the morning, clean and smooth but not superfast; no Q because of partner's off-course, but these things happen. Boost made her weave pole entrance! Woo! But popped out early. I made her stop and wait and then go back in and fix the last couple of poles, hoping the lesson would stick. Then she blasted past a tough-angled jump and to the next obstacle for an offcourse (sorry, partner), then she left her Aframe before I released her, and I made her Down (several times because she kept popping back up in front of me every time I moved).
Standard: Tika wouldn't play tug with me during warm-up, which looked uncomfortably similar to the other times when she has then been too sore to run. Knowing that she'd Drama-Queen me if I were to be solicitous, I just acted as if everything was fine. I led out, did a release and pivoted. She started out slow, knocked the 2nd jump, slowed even more over the next two jumps, then came to a complete stop. Yikes. Of course this would be a day when she's in Round 2 of Steeplechase and guaranteed a cash prize if she could just complete the run. We of course left the ring.
Boost had quite a credible run. She actually entered her weaves correctly and stayed in all the way to the end. That alone was great, after yesterday's weaving disasters. She also stuck every one of her contacts until I released her. AND although she knocked two bars and did one spin before the last jump when she was way ahead of me, one bar I yelled over, and the other was just a little tip, not a major hit, and overall it was a lovely, smooth, masters-type run for The Booster. I felt good about it.
Jumpers: I scratched Tika from this class. Gave her a good massage and stretched her joints (which, incidentally, she loved), gave her a doggie aspirin, let her rest. Boost came so close to Qing that I could almost scream--it was lovely! She did run past one jump, and I backed up until she was in a position to take it (I'm trying to remember instructor's instructions to "don't leave the scene of the crime--make her take those jumps!"), and there were a couple of very tiny hesitations that I noticed but that weren't actual refusals, and she kept all her bars up, and it was wonderful how it all came together! If we're not careful, someday we might actually get a Standard or Jumpers leg.
Steeplechase: Steeplechase was even more interesting--of the 4 other dogs in her height, Cap is a perennial tournament winner locally and double finalist at Scottsdale last year, Maja is another perennial tournament winner, national finalist, and world cup member, Aiko is a former Steeplechase Nationals champion, Hobbes is a USDAA Top Ten dog and Nationals finalist. And they're all Border Collies. Tika is just Tika. In the first round, three of the four were in the 27-second range; Tika was at 32. I knew I couldn't make up that much speed; I could just try to handle well, try to excite her, and see whether everyone else crapped out. Well--Cap hurt his toe Saturday and so scratched, leaving only 4 of us.
I walked the Steeplechase course a couple of times quickly and then went back to Tika while the walk-through continued. There were only 8 dogs before Tika, so I gave her another bit of massaging and joint stretching, a little trotting around, then tricked her by pulling out the frisbee instead of the usual prerun Riot Tug, and she came out just bouncy and boingy and rarin' to go. So I went ahead and ran her.
She ran clean. Not an inspired round for speed, and I think she looked at little wonky in the weaves, but that's two clean Steeplechase rounds in one weekend--pretty rare for us!
Then--Maja eliminated, Hobbes had a 5-point fault, and Aiko almost went off-course into the wrong end of a tunnel, but saved the run--still a second faster than Tika, but leaving us with a 2nd place ribbon and a cash award that would actually do more than just buy lunch.
Taj MuttHall Mom is pretty happy, although with that nagging worry about what's going on with Tika. Time will tell--