a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Jake is Full of Agility Surprises

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Jake is Full of Agility Surprises

Another--um--interesting agility weekend with Jake.

We did USDAA agility in Madera--probably low 80s (that's farenheit) on Saturday, and me with only about 3 hours of sleep Friday night thanks to Tika not settling down (more later). I was pretty wiped.

Saturday Jake just did not seem to run all that fast. In his Jumpers run, he went charging into the first tunnel (a U-shape) and then... and then... didn't come out. And finally came out, walking, looking dazed. The club down there has a couple of teal tunnels with black insides, and turns out that dogs were crashing and burning, slipping and falling inside those tunnels all weekend. I don't know why some dogs were and others weren't, but I'm pretty sure that's what happened to Jake. When we got back to the same tunnel later in the run, he pulled away from the entrance after I had sent him to it (and lately he's been extremely hard to pull away from something when I *don't* want him to go in), so he had a Refusal fault, costing us a qualifying score.

Next day, also Jumpers course, he had to do 2 of those same tunnel (in a U-shape), and the second time approaching it, he *also* pulled off it after I had sent him in, then ended up going in the other end, for an off course and elimination. I don't know what the deal is--it's not like we haven't seen those teal/black tunnels before. It *does* make it very hard for the dog to see anything in the tunnel, so maybe if they're running straight in, thinking that it doesn't turn, they might be surprised and not adjust their footing correctly.

Saturday's Gamble I think I just panicked when the first whistle blew and didn't give him enough "mo" (forward momentum) to propel him straight out over 2 jumps. But only 4 dogs of all of the masters-level dogs got that gamble, so it was not an easy one anyway.

Saturday's and Sunday's standard (your basic numbered all-obstacle course) courses were off--he didn't even try to stick his contacts, and I'd be stopping, expecting him to stop, so he'd approach the next obstacle and then stop when he realized I wasn't coming, for a refusal again. And on Sunday's course, he just started doing his own course full-speed again with two instances of that odd kind of turning in a direction that seemed to make no sense that he's been doing so much of lately.

Then the last 2 runs of Sunday were another Gamble that I watched dog after dog after dog fail to get, and it had an Aframe in the gamble part, too, which he'd been flying off of all weekend--and he stuck with me trhough the opening and I didn't panic and he did the gamble beautifully, which was FINALLY the last leg he needed for his Accomplished Performance Dog title. Might not sound like much, but it's the Performance Dog equivalent of an agility Championship, but USDAA won't call it a Championship. Performance dogs jump 6" lower than regular-track dogs and also get a couple more seconds to complete their courses. It's designed either for veteran dogs or for dogs who for whatever reason can't compete at (or whose handlers don't want them to compete at) the regular levels. I moved Jake to Performance last year when he started showing more subtle signs of arthritis last year and occasionally going around thd 22" jumps.

course map for Saturday's novice gamble

Then, to top it off, we had a lovely Snooker run on a very unusual course. Even though I very badly handled the #5 and #6 obstacles (which were an awkward combination of a tunnel and 4 jumps), he still made it though #6 and partway through #7 in the closing (there are only 7 in the closing), earning him not only enough points for a Super-Q in Performance but, had he been competing with the regular-track dogs, it would've been good enough for a super-Q there, too. So I was very proud of him.

On top of being quite baffled by some of his earlier actions on other courses. Altogether, he had only 2 Qs out of 8 runs, which isn't going to get us into the top 200 any time soon, but it's better than none, and they weren't easy courses to get Qs on, and he *is* 12 1/3 years old, so I shouldn't be complaining.

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