Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mice and Men Got Nothing On Us

SUMMARY: Sometimes things (let us say, just off the top of my head, CPE trials the day after Thanksgiving) don't go the way you planned, hoped, expected, or even imagined.

Here are some photos with circles and arrows on the backs of each one explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against us.




Agility as a weight loss device

I swear that I took barely more than a forkful or two of anything on Thursday. ...Well, of *everything* on Thursday. Friday morning, 4 a.m., scale shows three (!) pounds heavier. Good thing I'm going to agility, where I'm physically active, have two dogs to run, and tend to eat lightly.

First thing in the morning, near the check-in window, there are huge stacks of really tasty-looking chocolate chip cookies. Well, what the heck, if I have just ONE that's not so bad, because I'm at agility and tend to eat lightly.

A while later alongside the course maps that I was picking up sat a really tasty-looking cake--not sure what for, but I don't often have a chance for cake (and frosting, which is what I *really* like), and what the heck, I'm at agility where I'm really active and so what if I have just one piece?

Then, middle of the day, WAG had a big birthday bash for one of their key helpers--he'd be like their estate manager--with an amazing-looking carrot cake with the thickest cream cheese frosting you've just about ever seen. Well, I'm fond of carrot cake and I really like cream cheese frosting, and really, OK, I know what's going on here, but I don't get carrot cake or c.c. frosting often, so I'll just have one piece of that.

In the worker raffle, I usually put most of my tickets into the bags for the free trial entries because I already have more beds, toys, books, bags, and so on than I know what to do with. But I usually look for something that I might kind of like to have that doesn't have too many tickets in it as a possible consolation prize for when I don't win the free entries and I'll put one of my tickets into that bag. So there was this huuuuuge tin of Almond Roca--

On the other hand, my pedometer did indicate that, in one day of an agility trial. I covered enough steps to equate to 12 miles! I'll tell ya, after several years of doing mostly score table at trials, where what's involved is mostly sitting, at this trial I did leash running, scribe running, pole setting--all kinds of things where what's involved is mostly NOT sitting.

Maybe the day was a wash in terms of actual calories inhaled/exhaled.

One day of agility as a way to burn off bored dogs' energy

I get up at 4 in the morning, am out of the house by 4:30, drive 2 hours through occasional drizzles, arrive at the agility place, take the dogs over to the field for a little frisbee warm-up and pottying, and Tika turns sharply on the wet ground, yelps, and comes back to me on three legs.

I have several single-word comments on how I felt about that, most of which aren't printable here. Entry fees for 5 runs, down the tubes. Opportunity to burn off some mental and physical energy, down the tubes. Opportunity to win the Turkey Trot again--well, there's still Boost, but Tika's been my winning dog before and I had high hopes for her. Five chances to earn those precious CPE Qs since we don't do much CPE and Tika has a long way to go to her C-ATE, down the tubes. Damage to dog--don't know, but guessing that'll be more money down the tubes.

I couldn't find anything. Didn't do the hunchy-over thing like she does when it's her shoulders or neck, seemed clearly to be in her foot. Gave her a rimadyl and an hour's rest. Let her out of her crate. She hopped down from the van with no sign of problem. Stretched fine, did figure 8s around my legs fine, played tug-of-war vehemently. Trotted alongside me out to the field with the practice jump. Sent her out around a couple of posts. Everything fine. Sent her over the jump, and she flew over with enthusiasm, turned tightly towards me with bright eyes, yelped, and came up on three feet.

Scratched her from her first run and found the vet who is also an enthusiatic CPEer and is pretty much always there at WAG competing with her dogs. Waited for her to do her run with her dog, and then she looked Tika over. She saw pretty quickly what my inexperienced eyes didn't detect--the knuckle of Tika's left front little toe is swollen. She doesn't think it's broken, unless it's a hairline fracture. No way to tell without an x-ray.

I thank her for looking (hopefully profusely enough) and ponder what to do. Tika is on leash, has been over the practice jump, and despite now walking again with a limp, she is acting eager and excited to be near the agility ring at an agility trial and clearly WANTs to run. I ponder what to do.

The next class is Full House, which is like a Gambler's opening with no gamble, so we can do almost anything we want to. There are some tunnels and 6-pole weaves on the course, so I decide I'll try to have her just do a couple of those *gently and easily and slowly* to see what happens. So I line her up next to me in front of a straight tunnel, don't put her into a stay or anything, just release her gently and say, quietly and calmly, "Through!" (we don't say "tunnel", we say "through". There's a lady in our class with grayhounds who says "Be small!" it's very cute. They really do have to hunker down to get through the tunnels).

OK, anyway, those of you with driven, enthusiastic dogs just KNOW what happens--Tika blasts full throttle through the tunnel, and because I'm trying to be calm and sedate, I'm way behind her. So when she blasts out of the tunnel, she careens into a sharp U-turn to see what I'm up to (eyes wide open and bright and ears up and looking SO happy to be out there)--and suddenly halts and comes out of the turn limping.

I try once more a couple of hours later, in Snooker, with the judge's dispensation-- just one straight tunnel, which she does fine, and one gently curved tunnel--which she comes out of limping. And still bouncing back and forth (mostly on 3 feet) trying to get me to tell her which obstacle to take next.

So that's enough stupid attempts to satisfy both of our desires for her to do some agility. She's scratched for the rest of the day, including (sob!) the Turkey Trot.

The up side to this was that it completely vindicated my decision not to go to Nationals two weeks ago because Tika keeps coming up sore at random times. I was deadly disappointed today, but imagine how awful it would've been for this to happen in Arizona.

Tika as the Mondo Q-Earner in CPE and Boost as the also-ran

I hate going to trials and coming home with few or no Qs or placements. ESPECIALLY CPE, where Tika has quite the record of not only massive Qs and first places, but often THE highest score/fastest time of all dogs at the trial. It's an ego boost for me, who is obviously pathetic in her need for ego boosts like this, but there ya go. After Tika's injury, I was fully prepared to come home with next to nothing.

First run of the day was Wildcard (I am not explaining games today), in which a dropped bar is fatal. I pick a pretty darned simple course--it's essentially an M-shaped path, how hard can it be? We will have to successfully negotiate one rear cross, which isn't Boost's strong point.

Boost runs past one jump on the second leg of the M and I barely call her off the tunnel after it (but in fact she does call off and I get her brought around without backjumping), and she turns entirely the wrong way on the rear cross ( but I get her turned around and on course again with no faults), and, wow, we're CPE-clean and have a Q! But lots of wasted time.

The thing you have to know about "clean" in CPE is that there are never faults for refusals or runouts. AND, although not clean, at level 4 and 5 in CPE (which is where Boost competes now), on many courses you can still Q even if you have certain kinds of faults.

But now Boost has one CPE-clean run and a Q for the day. Not to my surprise, we don't win--but, jeez, with all that wasted time, we're still 2nd place.

Next up is Full House. I love full house with my dogs. Just get as many obstacles as possible (with a very minimal number of rules) for points. And this one was particularly juicy--I could do a course with basically two very smooth loops and one rear cross and pick up almost every possible point on the field--
6 out of 6 5-pointers
7 out of 8 3-pointers
5 out of 14 1-pointers (maybe more depending on how smoothly things went).

So--she breaks her start-line stay, so I immediately put her into a down-stay and walk calmly around her and then release her when I'm ready. Probably means we'll loose the final 5-pointer because of the wasted time. On the first loop, she ran PAST the tire (drop 3 points). Then she missed the weave entry (drop maybe 5 seconds to get her lined up and back in, so probably that means drop the other 5-pointer off the end. After that, she flew, but sure enough the whistle blew as she flew towards our last 2 obstacles, both of them 5-pointers. Ah, well, crappy run but a Q.

And, to my surprise, a win in our group (Level 5, which is almost the top leve). Not the highest points of the day by far if you compare to all other dogs, but I'll take a Q and a 1st anyway.

And, guess what! That's the last Level 5 Q she needs in that class, so now she's eligible for her first Level C ("championship") entry (just in that class) at our next trial. Yowza!

Next is Snooker. It's a very tight little course (really--laid out on a 70x70 field which is literally half the area of a typical USDAA course) and really fast long-jumping dogs--and especially the ones who aren't always the best performers--could have a tough time. I decided, what the heck, we IN THEORY have the skills required to do a three-7 opening and get through to the end. It requires that she hold her sit while I lead out, then pull her between a jump and a tunnel to the first 7-pointer--and of course that she keep all her bars up.

Anyway, once again she turned the wrong way on a rear cross, and it was almost a disaster, but we held it together and completed the course in well under the allowed time.

Turns out--ta-da!--she was the ONLY dog out of all dogs entered at the trial who earned the full 51 points! What a good girl. Pleased with that, indeed.

Next up was Jumpers. Man, some weird sequences in that one AND it would require a ton of running on my part to be in the right place at the right time. And then there's the bar-knocking issue. OK, so she ran past one jump--I pulled hard to keep her off a tunnel trap and she responded too readily--so wasting time turning her around and getting her back over it, and then there was the tough push/turn out of the tunnel that I just handled wrong, so we wasted SO much time on course, but in fact never went off course and no bars came down. So: Another CPE-clean run, another Q, and this time merely 4th place. (Slower dogs definitely had advantages on this course.)

And, finally, Standard, our only regular class of the day with contacts. Thank goodness, all of her contacts were spot-on perfect, and she handled a tough tunnel-dogwalk discrimination with aplomb, AND kept her bars up. So, OK, she ran past yet ANOTHER jump and it took a lot of effort to get her back to it, because I had been trying to send so was a long way away, and she turned the wrong way on a rear cross (sensing a trend here?), and fer cryin' out loud was headed straight at the weave pole entry but turned back to me to see what I was doing, wasting yet MORE time, but it was CPE-clean, so a Q. And apparently it was a tough-enough course that she managed her third 1st-place of the day.

So, for the day, five out of five Qs, three 1sts, a 2nd, and a 4th. Way better than I had expected.

Boost knocking bars everywhere

In CPE, she's jumping 20" instead of 22", and that seems to make a big difference. She didn't drop a SINGLE bar all day, out of 6 runs!

Turkey Trot

I so wanted to win! It's just a fun game, it has no meaning whatsoever, but since my dogs have won 4 times so far, I just really wanted to keep on winning. Plus you get these really cool embroidered Top Turkey awards and a goodie bag.
 


The game this year was 21. Your team had two minutes, and dogs took turns trying to earn 21 points EXACTLY. There was this simple little 4-obstacle gamble that of course our experience masters-level USDAA dogs should have no troulbe getting, which gave us 21 points automatically, rather than trying to accrue 21 points on the rest of the course.


There was an alternative good route of 7 obstacles (including 2 aframes) that was pretty fast for 21 points if you thought you could do that exact course without popping the aframe or knocking a bar. (And of course many other choices on the course.) But we figured we could just do that 4-obstacle gamble over and over one after the other and rack up multiple 21-pointers. Piece of cake, right?

We were all so fast that we each got 2 shots at it and not one of us did it correctly even once (4 times into wrong side of tunnel, one teeter flyoff, and boost who couldn't even do the dang weave pole entry one of her times), which meant that we then had to take an additional 3 obstacles each time to make our 21 points. And then of course two of those runs the dog didn't quite do what we wanted, so it was more than 21 points.

Anyway, we ended up with four 21 pointers. Several teams had 4 or 5 and one had 6.

Then your team drew numbers out of a pot, one for each 21 you earned, and the sum of those numbers you drew determined the winner. (That's the element of luck. The skill is in getting enough 21s to earn the right to draw more numbers.)

Boost's team ended up in 2nd place out of 8 big dog teams, dang. So close. But oh well. Disappointing but not nearly as disappointing as not being able to run Tika in it. (And I don't want to act too disappointed because I LOVE the fun of the turkey trot and the different games each year and don't ever want Susan to stop doing it.)

However, the only other person I know who had 4 Turkey Trot wins going into Friday, a Bay Team friend (and was Jake's teammate on at least one of his wins, as was one of his teammates) DID win in the small dog division, so now he has 5 wins. Pretty cool indeed.

So--awake at 4:00 a.m., crawl into my own warm bed about 10:45 p.m., lights out!

3 comments:

  1. I know how frustrating it is to be at a trial and think a dog is going to be ok, and have her come up lame. That is the story of my life! Our dogs work hard and play hard, it's so easy for them to mangle themselves. It's easy to have that wishful thinking of, "maybe they'll be ok later..." and they're just plain old sore. I hope Tika feels better soon!

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  2. I was thinking about TSD's on-again, off-again gimpiness this morning as I watched Tika race out into the yard. Later in the day, she was limping again, then not. Still looks swollen to me, so at least there's something I can focus on rather than a complete mystery.

    But it does make me fear that this is going to knock us out of our only remaining agility for the year, in 2 weeks .

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  3. Poor Tika, here's hoping for quick healing for her. Dog lameness is frustrating but at least you know the source of it and it doesn't sound like a bad, long term problem.

    And I think 2nd place is still a great result for your Turkey Trot.

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