a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Saturday in Madera

Monday, June 19, 2006

Saturday in Madera

SUMMARY: A hot, relaxed CPE day

As usual, I had both cameras with me and took absolutely no photos. So I'll just include some external links to relevant sites.

This morning, we managed to get on the road right about 4 in the morning, which was according to our published plan. Travel was smooth; in fact, we saw very few cars on Pacheco Pass Road (152) from Gilroy until after the 156 intersection. As we drove over the pass, a deep blue predawn glow outlined the shapes of the two-dimensional black mountains, and reflected eerily from the surface of the San Luis Reservoir, making it look like a sheet of backlit glass embedded in a freeform black frame.

The sun didn't break orange over the mountains until we were heading due east on 152, well past Los Banos, but, conveniently, it rose behind the column holding the left side of my windshield, so I had no trouble with it blinding me as I drove. I arrived at the Madera Fairgrounds (photo here; the agility area is the square-shaped lawn center right. Normally there are no cars in the parking lot at the bottom of the photo when we're there) shortly after 6 and just about had my choice of spots to set up.

This looked like a teeny trial as I drove in: Only one ring (pretty rare) and canopies only a single layer thick along the tree-lined side of the field. I threw up my canopy and one crate for Jake, as I was able to simply back onto the field and leave the Merle Girls in their crates in the car for the day.

It was already warm by the time we got started, even though the first walkthrough was over by 7:00. We were entirely done with Full House, all levels, at 7:45. Tika and Jake were done running everything by 12:15, although there was one more class left to run, which finished before 1, and then we built the course for tomorrow morning and everyone left (everyone not staying onsite as I am--brought my computer this time, anticipating a small trial, but of course have no Internet connection).

It's danged hot; I reverted to wearing shorts again midmorning (two trials in a row! Must be a record!) and sweated like crazy. In fact, I had intended to be very productive this afternoon, having my computer with me and a huge mostly unoccupied fairgrounds in which to play with the dogs, but it was too darned hot to do anything, even sleep. Bleah. Mostly hung out. Groomed the dogs a bit. Stuff like that. But I get ahead of myself.

Full House

Full House is that game where Tika and I like to try to get all the obstacles for points at least twice. On this particular layout, there was no way we could--it used the full 90 x 100-foot field and had all three contacts in it as well as a good, widespread assortment of tunnels and jumps.

Tika didn't stick her first Aframe, nor her second, so I made her lie down and think about it a bit, and then we didn't have time to do her final 5-point obstacle, the teeter. And because I started her on the teeter, I made her hold it, which cost us a point for being over time. She placed first--but the trial is so small (140 runs for the entire day! That covers all 4 classes, all 6 levels, all heights) that almost everyone's guaranteed a first *sometime* during the weekend. (You figure that there are about 50 dogs entered, and each class has 6 levels (if you don't count Specialist, but there are actually some specialist-level dogs, too) and 5 heights, making at least 30 possible 1sts for each class. Sure, there are multiple dogs in some height/level combos, but not always the same ones.

Jake did OK enough for a Q and a 1st (see note above about everyone getting at least one first...).


It wasn't a trivial course, and Tika and I handled it beautifully, except she didn't stick her Aframe, so I made her lie down. Her teeter was OK, but then she stopped partway down on the dogwalk, which was the next to the last obstacle. And I kept saying "touch!" and she'd take another step down, and then another, but verrrry slowly. And then finally she took off and I don't remember whether I had given her the OK but I think so, and because I hestiate, she turns back to me as she goes over the last jump--and knocks the bar. Drat! So although she ran fast, with the contact futzing, it was a slowish time, and no Q with the bar, and it was definitely my fault.

Jake didn't enter.


Well, a sad story--another challenging course that we handled beautifully except somehow I must have called her as I did a double-front-cross and calling her into the tire, because she caught it and pulled it completely over. It made her almost stop, but didn't land on her, and she was looking around for something to do, so I figured it was better to finish the last 2 obstacles than to have her bite my feet, so that's what we did, but another non-Q for knocking over the tire.

Jake didn't enter this, either.


Picked only a mildly aggressive course and decided I could do the same course with both dogs. Jake didn't stay at the start line as long as I wanted, but he did stay long enough for me to lead out far enough towards the right side of the tunnel on the far side of the field. I was looking over my right shoulder and running and pointing with my right hand, and he cut behind me and took the left end of the tunnel. Which was puzzling but legal, just made his path longer, and he was moving quickly, so then I had to haul butt to get him out to the next jump, and I was calling and looking over my right shoulder, and he cut behind me and I had to call him off something and then futz around to get him over the jump, then back into the tunnel and then all I had to do was run him straight across the field through a huge gap between obstacles to our last red jump, watched him come out of the tunnel over my right shoulder, had my right hand out and pointing alongside me, and he was hauling in my direction and then abruptly veered behind me and took the Aframe for an offcourse. Sheesh! I almost never do blilnd crosses with my dogs, so I don't know what he thought I was asking of him. Oh, well.

Tika did her course very nicely, two 6s and a 7 in the opening, which I thought was reasonably challenging, but plenty of people did two or three 7s, so plenty of people beat our score, although it was a Q.

Net for the Day

Three Qs of 6 runs, two firsts and a third for the Qs, and probably placements for the nonQs because so few dogs, but I didn't pick up those ribbons.

We slept in the van again, with the two front windows open about 6 inches (didn't dare do more for fear of having a dog fly out during the night, the two rear fly windows opened their 3 inches, the rear door held down with a bungie and just barely propped open with a 4x4, and the side door next to me completely open with only a metallic sunscreen clipped over it. It cooled down nicely and was actually a very nice evening; it's not always that I can lie on my bed and watch the last colors of the sunset fade into the deep blue of twilight. Despite the roaring engines of whatever races were going on at the Fairground track, as usual I was too tired after a day of agility for it to keep me awake.

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