a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Another Decent USDAA Weekend

Monday, May 03, 2004

Another Decent USDAA Weekend

Backfill: May 7
This USDAA weekend was between the two previous; Tika got three Qs again and so did Jake.

Tika in Masters: This was her first weekend in any masters class: Standard. On Saturday, she took an offcourse in a difficult obstacle discrimination that caught about half the dogs, and otherwise she was a fine example of a Masters dog. On Sunday, she knocked the first bar (oh, well, at least the pressure was off early!) and otherwise ran a course that would've been qualifying. Except she was over time by a second and a half! However, that's because I relaxed and took a long time on the contacts, two of which she left before I said "OK", so I did my usual "standing time out," which is simply me standing there until she comes back to me and has to hang out for a moment instead of continuing. And she also was slow into her Down on the table (as in "Down? How about a Sit instead?" which I haven't encountered with her before). Not something I'm concerned about!

Tika in Advanced Jumpers: This was her first weekend in Advanced Jumpers, in which we knocked a couple of bars and had an offcourse. This was a deadly course for fast dogs with long strides. Other handlers with more skill than me crashed and burned on this course, too. But she made some nice moves, too.
Tika in Advanced Snooker: Also her first weekend in Advanced Snooker, and she had two oppportunities to earn a Q. On Saturday, she did a lovely job but knocked both bars in the two-obstacle #5 in the closing, so we didn't have enough points for the Q. On Sunday, the course required us to do four reds in the opening. We did three 6s and a 7 along with the reds, but she knocked a bar on one of the 6s so we didn't get the points. In the closing, we got all the way through 6 and then she backjumped on her way to #7. Still plenty of points on a tough course for a Q and 2nd place. (She didn't knock ANY of the reds this time! That's progress!)

Tika Advanced Gamblers: Her second weekend in Advanced Gamblers. We rocked! What a good girl! Got more points than *any* other Advanced dog of any height, for a first place and a Q.

Tika Advanced Pairs: Second weekend in this, too, and her second Q. So summarize: She now has at least one Q in all Advanced games except Jumpers, so if we can get a Jumpers Q, she can move to Masters in everything! I hope it doesn't take us as long to get the Advanced jumpers Q as it took to get our Novice--

Relaxing after a good run

Jake the Snookerman: I don't know why Jake has turned out to be such an excellent Snooker dog. He gets more excited for this than for any other game. I don't know whether it's because every scrap of handling has to be tight and focused, or whether my tension (not stress) is higher, or because we shoot through long distances without doing obstacles, or what it is. He has a great lead-out for snooker: I can lead out all the way across the field, turn, and call him, and he comes straight to me, ignoring all obstacles on either side. This allows me to do more aggressive and interesting opening sequences. When he can hear me, he turns on a dime, allowing more of the same. And he sends out ahead of me beautifully, allowing me to throw him out, say, to a Red in one corner of the field and then beat feet to something in an entirely different direction.

It has gotten harder lately because the "when he can hear me" part makes it challenging to get him *back* from a long send-out or to make tight or challenging turns.

Still, this weekend he did good. (Oh, sorry--he done well.) Two Snookers. I picked opening courses that allowed me to stay with him or in front of him so I didn't have to rely on calling him. In the regular Snooker competition, these would've been very good qualifying scores but probably not Super-Qs (top 15% of those competing). However, in Performance, with only 12 dogs competing, he managed to be the highest-scoring dog both days, for two Super-Qs. This also earned him his Accomplished Snooker Dog title (10 P3-level snooker legs; the equivalent of the Snooker Champion in regular competition). I'm pretty pleased with that.

Jake the Jumper: And, once again, for the last run of the weekend, he took first and Qed in his jumpers class.

Jake the noncontactman: Both of his standard runs were very nice EXCEPT he flew off his contacts again while I was standing still waiting for him to stop. He usually gets a paw into the yellow on the Aframe, but lands so far ahead of me towards the next obstacle, and then can't hear me when I yell, that he takes an offcourse. And he usually does NOT get a paw into the yellow on the dogwalk. He is SO perfect in class! How can he NOT do it in competition? I said within Kathie Leggett's hearing that I ought to pull him off the course when he does that, because otherwise how else will he figure out that it's not OK to do that? She said WHY? --He's 12 and a half, he's earned several championships, why not just let him run and have fun? I said it's because I want more Qs for him to make it into the Top 200 Lifetime Earners before he retires, so it's all about ME, not about HIM. Harrumph.

I'm thinking about it.

Ol' Fuzzheado (Sprayed down after a hot run on a hot day)

Jake other stuff: Gambling--Lost Jake on the gamble approach--he got ahead of me and took his own course. I think that he does hear me sometimes, but with the background noise and the wide-open spaces, I think that he cannot hear me well and probably my voice gets higher again. Pairs Relay--there's no official Performance pairs relay, but in the just-for-fun one, Jake ran fast and clean and they took 2nd among 11 pairs.

Steeplechase: Tika did OK but had a funny offcourse into a tunnel when I crossed behind the Aframe. Didn't enter Jake. This makes 16 attempts at Steeplechase Qs in my career, with 3 different dogs, over 8 years. One Q with Rem, one with Jake, and that's it. Sighhhh--

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