Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Boost's Speed and some Gambling Strategies

SUMMARY: Boost is very fast. Very. But does it ever show?

Hint #1 that she's very fast: Weaves. Jim B suggested in class last week that I should arrange a 60-weave-pole challenge at a future trial to see whether she could break the record. That was unsolicited, and a nice thing to say! Now that her weaves seem to be fixed again. I tried to find Official Scoring Info for the 60 Weave Pole Challenge, but it doesn't seem to be on the Clean Run site any more. Anyone know who's handling that event and tracking of results these days?

Hint #2 that she's very fast: Gamblers. When we can get our act together. I try to pick courses that we can do without bobbles so that we're not rehearsing garbage. It's not always easy to do, and sometimes is a lower-point course than ideal. But when we get it--we get the "how the * did you get xx points?!" from handlers of other very fast dogs. We were SO close last weekend, but no cigar.




In the walkthrough, I had picked out about 3 course plans that I liked, with some variant openings on each, and hadn't entirely decided which to do. Plans with the dogwalk were right out for Tika, because her dogwalk is so unreliable. Plans with the teeter were iffy for Boost--although her teeter is really fast, there was no good approach to it for us at our current performance level.

I was watching the scores come through before I ran. A talented friend with 2 fast dogs ran early and scored 60 and 61 points, more than any other dogs to that point. I hadn't added up the points from my plans; I usually don't, just try to maximize the number of higher-point obstacles and assume that it'll result in a bunch of points. But I commented to her that I wanted to know what her plan was, so she told me. It mapped almost perfectly to one of my options--mine had one more obstacle at the beginning--and I decided that if she was getting to the right place with her dogs with one fewer obstacle, I was probably overreaching.

Boost and I were not perfect on course. First, she ran under the tire going from the Aframe to the chute--that cost us 3 points. Then, after the chute, I had trouble getting her onto the dogwalk and ended up having to spin her around me to line her up again. Must have wasted at least 2 seconds. At the other end of the dogwalk, our "perfect" ability to say "left tunnel!" and have her blast right in there failed, as instead she came off the dogwalk towards me, and so we had to bobble a bit to get her into the #7 end of the tunnel--another second or two wasted.

Everything else was lovely, but the whistle blew before she exited the #12 tunnel (I thought that she was out when the whistle blew, but we didn't get our 3 points for it so apparently not). So our total points for the run was 60 (including the gamble). If she hadn't run under the tire, and if we hadn't had silly bobbles at both ends of the dogwalk, she'd have had at least 66. Which would've been 5 more points than anyone else at the trial. Now, OK, Luka and Beadle and Heath and Cap weren't there, but damnit I still think we'd have been in there.

At the start of gamble, we were in perfect position and she did 1-4 perfectly, but came in to me before #5 and it took several lonnnng heart-stopping seconds to get her to finally go out. BUT because we were in good position and because she's so fast, we achieved it with about 3 seconds to spare.

Hint #3 that we have a whole truckload of work to do: Snooker. Getting Qs in Snooker should be easy. Especially ones like this weekend's, where getting three 7s was basically a speed course, not so much a handling course. In Tika's height, 6 of 9 dogs got 51 points, for example.

Two trials ago, Boost and I had so many bobbles--runouts, refusals, knocked bars--on what I thought was a fairly straight-forward course that we got only about 7 points before we finally had to leave the course. Someone looking only at the accumulator sheet said, "How is it possible for someone to be out there for 45 seconds and get only 7 points?" I laughed and explained.

This week: Deja vu.



First, I led out so that the dog saw nuthin' but tunnel when looking over the first jump (I made sure that the teeter was out of sight behind the wing, for example). I released and started running straight at the tunnel. Dog is supposed to come with you, right? Especially a dog who ran around jumps on lead outs something like 5 times this weekend trying to get to where you were? But noooo--she veered right and ran across the teeter, so I had to regroup, work her around to get her lined up to do the teeter instead of the #7 in the opening.

Then, trying to get her over the 2nd red (to the right of the teeter), we went into the "this jump? this jump? this jump?" refusal dance. Got it, got into the 7a tunnel, hit the first weave pole and then skipped, so had to spin her around and retry--reentered in the wrong place. Spun her around and retried and finally got it. On the 3rd red, I front-crossed after the weaves so that it would be an easy handling thing with her on my left to do the #1 and back to the weave, but nooo-- "this jump? this jump? this jump?" and then she crashed into the bar trying to do it sideways at the last minute.

So then I had to line her up for the 2-3, but now her brain is over the top and she's bouncing every which way. I am standing completely still and telling her in a calm voice "here" (which means line up on my right side) and patting my right leg. I'm not sure how long it took before she actually lined up and stopped bouncing bouncing bouncing. I made sure that she was looking straight across the #2 to the #3 (not looking at me) and I had a straight line to run to get to #4a.

I told her "through!" and she blasted across #2 and into the tunnel like greased lightning while I hauled my butt from a complete standstill--and she came back out the same end of the tunnel! I was ready to strangle her.

So there we were, looking at the accumulator sheet, with about 46 seconds used and only 9 points to our name.

Sigh.

If only we could harness that speed for the good of all mankind instead of using our powers for evil!

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