a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: NADAC Vallejo trial

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

NADAC Vallejo trial

Thank goodness I have friends to email to--then I just copy my end of the conversations here and, voila, it's like actual writing.

This past weekend wasn't too bad, but not one of my most stellar performances. Between the 2 dogs, we had 20 runs over the weekend.

I managed to forget the course in 2 of the runs. OK, my databse says I've done that 16 other times out of the (jeez, this is scary--)1250 competition runs I've done. But never twice in one weekend.

Then, I fell during 2 other runs (OK, I have in fact fallen probably half a dozen times in the entire 8 years I've been doing agility--but never 2x in the same weekend, let alone the same day). First run of Sunday was a doozy. Not only did my feet somehow lose track of the ground, but as I flew headfirst through the air, I had plenty of time to ponder two facts: first, that my head was about to smack full force into the metal upright of a jump and, second, that there was nothing I could do but watch it come.


I tried blaming it on the wrong shoes. So, for my 2nd run, I switched into my Magic Agility Sure-Grip Shoes, and promptly fell again. Both dogs thought I was a poor excuse for a partner but they did their civil best to be nice to me anyway. At least one so-called friend started calling me Crash. I suppose there could be worse nicknames--Doofus, for example, or Klutz--but, still--

THEN I walked one course wrong. Someone tried to explain to me afterwards that obstacle number 7 does not usually immediately follow number 5, and I suppose I can see their point, but it flowed much more nicely the way I ran it. I can remember doing that only once before in competition.

Those were just the highlights.

Jake just didn't want to turn tightly on anything, and I was really trying. He'd fly out of a tunnel, and I'd have been calling him since he first went in, and I'd try to be up at the exit to do a sharp point & call and I'd be facing away and he'd still go 20 feet before turning. And turning over jumps--just wiiiiiiiiide even when I thought I was trying to signal in advance.

Tika didn't do too badly. Her contacts were very solid. Twice she got off a little early (before I released her) and I put her back on, but she wasn't flying off or dashing away. Left the start line twice and I put her back both times and she stayed the 2nd time. Last 2 runs of the weekend I finally gave up when she grabbed my feet and just picked her up and carried her off. So that's 6 Es out of 10 runs.

We managed one stellar 1st and qualifying standard run; another standard run she ran straight out of the ring among the canopies and stood and looked around; the wind was blowing our way across Travis' pen and I think she might have smelled him (she lived with Travis the Australian Shepherd before coming to live here). Anyway, she did come back into the ring full speed and we finished with one knocked bar--in 2nd place because of all her wasted time, but even so, 8 seconds under course time! (Ah, the bonus of having a really fast dog--)

Usually our weekends are much better than that-- really--

Jake did manage a couple of really nice runs despite his handler. In one, we scored higher than all other dogs except for one larger dog who's among the top dogs competiting in the country, who beat us by only one point. THAT was pretty exciting.

Altogether, though, only 4.5 qualifying runs out of 20. Not a great percentage.

I kept working on possible excuses. I'm tired? (I've been much more tired; actually felt pretty alert.) I'm ill? (Sciatica was a little bit annoying in the hips but mostly I felt in great health.) I'm stressed and distracted? (Was having a good time just being there and not worrying about work or anything.) I'm clumsy and not too bright? (Hmm-- I'll have to work on that one--)

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