a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: USDAA Weekend

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

USDAA Weekend

Last weekend we were in Madera for a USDAA trial. Was a fairly small trial; no extras at all, so Jake had only 5 runs all weekend and Tika only 6. Jake was a very good boy, qualified 4 out of 5 and was just a smidgen away from Qing on the gamble, too, but I mishandled it. Took 1st in 2 of his runs, too, in his Performance (used to be Veterans) division and was fast enough that he'd have placed even among the 30-or-so 22" dogs in the Championship division.

I was pleased with Tika's performance most of the weekend. I really wanted to make sure she was getting her contacts, and she did all weekend. The other issue has been staying at the start line, which she also did all weekend. And except for the gamble, where she stopped *next* to the final table to sniff at gopher holes, she never dropped her attention from me or the agility ring. We did very well in our standard runs--didn't Q in the first one because she knocked the first 2 bars, but we had ended up playing Start-Line Chicken and I think we started her off balance. 2nd one she didn't get up on the table right away, and then got up partway through, altogether probably wasting close to 10 seconds--but she was fast enough and accurate enough that we Qed and took 1st, since we were one of only a handful of novice dogs who *did* Q on that course.

I was particularly gleeful to discover that the 2nd run contained a difficult (for novice) obstacle sequence that was *exactly* the sequence we've been working on lately in the yard: jump, jump, into a U-shaped tunnel, come out the left side and immediately into the weaves. It took us a while to get her into the weaves correctly in the yard, but she's been nailing it for at least a week. Of course, you don't know how the dog will behave in real competition, but she nailed that weave entry perfectly! That entry was probably what kept more dogs from qualifying than anything else on the course.

She was superb in snooker, did everything I asked with no bobbles on either of our parts except that she knocked a bar in #5 on the closing--had 11 seconds left when we were done! She's a fast little gal. Did fairly well in gamblers, although missed one weave entry and I handled a cross badly and she leaped up at me and barked and grabbed. If it wasn't for sniffing next to the table--Argh. She and her partner ran beautifully in pairs for another 1st place. Our jumpers course was a much more technical one than we've encountered before; I thought it would be difficult, and it was. We were all over the place, and she wasn't even carrying out by the end, just kept coming back in to me & leaping, barking, grabbing. We really really need work on tight handling; the wide open courses we can do except for the occasional knocked bar.

My friends presented me with a book about Dog Heaven, signed by a number of people with little notes about Remington. I thought I could read it without crying. I couldn't. But it's a wonderful thing to have.

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