a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Mixed-Success Weekend

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mixed-Success Weekend

SUMMARY: Both dogs ran well and behaved themselves, but training and handling were issues.

I had a good time this weekend, loved running both dogs, and my knee held up fairly well.


No ADCH again. One issue that keeps cropping up is to try to cover wide-open territory and then send her ahead of me to an obstacle. Jake used to do that really well. Tika bounces along in front of me telling me that she doesn't understand what I want and is really excited and wants to do something. So we might not have made time on our necessarily aggressive Snooker course anyway, but what ended up killing us was, during the opening, a really fast blast from a tunnel into the weaves for the second time, I had her so revved up that she hit her weave entrance and bounced into the 3rd pole instead of the second. That hasn't happened in a long, long while, as I've worked so hard with her on weaves. After that, there was no way we could get the Super-Q no matter what I did for the rest of the run. Crap.

She had a lovely pairs run, although got tangled in the chute for some reason--it might have been my cross-behind and strong call, which I haven't usually used in the chute. Still, she was clean although partner was offcourse.

In her standard run, she was offcourse immediately on a lead-out pivot that I didn't time anywhere near well enough. Felt like I was working in molasses and just couldn't get myself moving until she was already committed for the wrong jump.

And the gamble was tough--only 9 of 69 dogs earned Qs. A few more dogs got the gamble but over time. My practice at home this week was spot on--I decided to do "weird handler weaves" with Tika a whole bunch, where I just do weird things and move in odd directions and so on while she's in the weaves and reward her when she stays in. She was hesitant at the beginning of the week (after not practicing this for a long while) but stronger by the end of the week. I was feeling confident about this gamble, where most dogs were popping out at weave #10. But, to start with, *I* bobbled a weave entry in the opening--thought she was going to miss it and called her just as she made a difficult skid and turn and made the entry perfectly (that practice pays off!) but came out again in response to my call. Didn't trust my dog to do her job! So we ended up missing 7 points in the opening, and then the closing involved the same set of weaves and I hung back a little to avoid the problems that other people were having, and danged if she didnt make her entry and immediately turn back and come to me to see what was going on! So much for practice makes perfect...

On the up side, she had a flawless Jumpers run; don't know how I could have gotten any more speed out of her, thought we had a chance of finally winning one, but no--3rd place (which, mind you, I'm not complaining about), missing second by only .14 of a second.

And most exciting, she knocked only one bar out of all 5 runs, and that was the first bar of the gamble opening, where it really didn't matter (and that's because she lay down at the start and there wasn't enough room for her to get elevated again).

She stuck her start line, stuck her contacts (came off one early and I held her up, then she was fine again), and was just a total joy to run. If only she felt the same way about my handling!

Boost with her "New Title" ribbon for her AD.


My other goal for the weekend was to finish Boost's AD--which we did, Phew!, now we can move up to Advanced in everything. Not entirely sure we're ready for it, as our issues are, again, handling and experience (both of us with each other, Boost, with different situations). Once again our biggest issue was blowing past things, usually when I'd give her a little call to change her line a little, and she'd change her line by a mile and blast past the next obstacle while looking at me. As someone said, like driving a Ferrari, you make one twitch on the steering and she veers a mile offcourse--she is *so amazingly fast*.

She started the day with a nearly flawless pairs run. I just about floated off the course. From A to Y, almost couldn't have asked for anything better. Held her start line without even raising her butt a fraction. Made her 2 contact entries smoothly, hit her two-on-two-offs fast and held them until I released her, made a very fast weave entry and stuck them all the way through, kept all her bars up, didn't run past anything. The only thing that wasn't perfect was that she slowed a bunch on the dogwalk up--she seems to not yet be able to identify the difference between a teeter and a dogwalk, and the fact that I use different words for them hasn't sunk in.

Our partner had a fault, but we Qed on the run (although didn't place). And she Qed in her Standard for the AD, but again didn't place--blew past the weaves (my fault involving a complicated table situation and I don't think she had a chance to see them until she was past them) and a jump, both of which I had to come back for.

In jumpers, blew past 2 jumps when I made those little adjustment calls (was TRYING to keep my mouth shut) and I just didn't go back for them; just wanted her to keep running, and man did she ever!

In gamblers, had some issues with go-ons to obstacles in front of us, but were in nice position for the gamble--and she blew past a jump that required a little more direction ('out' or 'left' or something) from me, but did obstacles 1,2, and 4 with tremendous speed and elan. :-)

And in snooker, her opening of 5-7-7 was absolutely luverly including go-ons to obstacles way ahead of me, but the closing started with a serpentine-type move across a jump and she blew right past it into the next tunnel and I couldn't possibly call her off of it (flat footed yelling "boost!boost!boost!" but nooooooooo). But I already knew all too well that serpentine-type jumping is an issue with us: That was solidly drilled in on our courses at Scottsdale. Soooo need even more of that!

But altogether she was a pleasure to be on the course with. Did all of her contacts beautifully, made all of her weave entrances except that one and stayed in all of them once she was in, kept all her bars up, etc. etc. What a good girl.

How many Boost trials?

So I don't know what to say about "Boost earned her AD in only X trials." It's a weird count. At the Labor Day trial, I entered only one class a day and used it for training, not for Qing (e.g., repeating the missed weaves in the gamble opening even though the whistle had blown). So does that trial count, since I deliberately blew off Qs?

At the next trial, she Qed 6 of 9 or so--short only 1 for her AD. And that's the one where my knee blew up.

At the next trial, we were handicapped by the fact that I literally could not run with her because of my knee, AND by the fact that that's when her weave poles fell apart and she couldn't complete a weave successfully all weekend. Would it have mattered if I could have run with her? Probably not, although a couple of classes that was decidedly the relevant factor in not Qing. So maybe I should count that trial and maybe not.

The next trial was the Nationals, and we were trying to make a go of it on masters-level courses and she did very well (including weaves) except for the aforementioned serpentiney kinds of moves. So do I count the nationals as a real trial? Not on the AD campaign, because she couldn't earn Qs.

So she completed her AD in only--um, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trials depending on how you count 'em. (grin)


  1. Congratulations on all your success last weekend. I'm glad to hear that your knee held up so well.

    I wonder why it is that when you only need one leg for your ADCH it seems like that's the one class where you can't buy a Q. But you know it'll happen eventually so hang in there.

  2. Thanks!

    It does seem like that happens to almost everyone with every major/important title. I wonder whether anyone has ever done any statistical analysis of it to prove that it takes forever, or whether it just always seems that way because it's the last one? (If there really is a lag, then of course the question would be--does it take forever because you're stressed about it? Or because you and your dog really don't have the skills for it? I'm not sure how one would prove that hypothesis; in theory, in both cases, after getting that last leg, you'd then get more of the same because either (a) you're less stressed or (b) you have now acquired the skills.

    Inquiring minds want to know. ;-)


  3. Well I know why it took me so long. Because Jumpers is our hardest class and I needed one Jumpers leg for what seems like years but was probably just several months.