a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: That Dang Super-Q...Finally!

Monday, February 05, 2007

That Dang Super-Q...Finally!


Tika finally earned that Dang Third Super-Q on Saturday, so now she's ADCH C-ATCH Finchester's Tika. It is my hope that we can continue to earn more Super-Qs for the fun of it, more often than once every year or so.

Although I felt pretty good on Friday, a sleep interrupted constantly by coughing that night followed by the 4 a.m. wake-and-drive bit Saturday morning, plus apparently being not quite as over my flu-or-whatever as I had hoped, left me rather drained most of the day Saturday and off-and-on Sunday. When I saw the course map for Snooker, my hopes sank: It had only 3 reds with an easy-to-get-to weaves as #7, followed by a very tight little circle of obstacles 2 through 7 for the closing. That meant that it would be a speed course, not a handling course. Our odds are much better on a handling course because Tika can be fast but tight. However, on an all-speed course, we just can't quite keep up with the Top Ten Candidate crowd. So, even if we were to make it through for all 51 points, we were sure to be 4th or 5th or 6th with only three Super-Qs available.

I felt drained enough that I wasn't even sure that I had the energy to push Tika through this course at her top speed. So I went in with the expectation that this would not be our day. And we made it through, with only one place where she started to turn the wrong way after a red and I was afraid I'd just set her up for a backjump when I forgot to do a front cross after the first set of weaves, but we recovered and made it on all the way through with time left on the clock. Still, I watched two other dogs make it all the way through, too, and I put Tika away and wandered off to the latrines, grumbling to a couple of friends on the way that I'm tired of those times when my brain can hold it together for 51 points and still be an also-ran.

Lovely ribbon and our fancy pole, filled to the brim with friends's signatures. (Might try for a clearer photo later today.)
I got a drink and wandered by the score table as the end of the 26" class approached--and discovered that there were only three 26" dogs with 51 points on the sheet, and we knew that all except one of the remaining dogs were not teams who would beat us. When that last possiblity for a faster 51 crapped out, I got Tika out of her crate again and hung around the ring. We've been needing--and failing to get--this super-Q for so long that, although there are plenty of friends who are aware that we just need a Super-Q, I have not been mentioning it often at the last couple of weekends because we've messed up so often. My friend at the score table knew that was our ADCH, but she was the only one immediately cognizant. I realized that, if we took a victory lap, no one would know what was going on. THEN I realized that I was too tired, and my throat too raspy, to have any energy to jump up and down and yell (not that I'm a jumpy-yelly person anyway), nor even to hunt down the trail committee because I know they have awards available. And I just didn't care, just wanted to take the lap and go sit down. So I just jogged out to Sandra Katzen (who's been involved in agility since the birth of USDAA, pretty cool), told her that was our ADCH, she gave us a hug, and we jogged around the course trying to look peppy. There were some cheers and applause from people who happened to notice us during the jump-height change, but it was pretty low-key and that was a very good thing for me at that moment. THEN I went and sat down.

It's odd to admit that my greatest feeling upon discovering the Super-Q was exhausted relief, not euphoria nor even some level of elation...Eventually, cheerful satisfaction made an appearance on Sunday, and that's about where I am today.

Erika and Dave kindly took a bunch of shots of us with our awards on Sunday, some of which turned out very nice and smiley and looking-into-the-camera, but I've decided that I like this one th best, where we think we're still getting ready to be shot.
I didn't even have the energy to deal with arranging to have our photo taken, so we didn't do that until the next day--but I can assure you that I was wearing a bright blue-and-purple tie-dyed shirt for the momentous occasion.

So, in summary, it turns out that the course was, in fact, a handling course, not a speed course. There were a variety of issues, but I think primarily in two places. More people than I expected had trouble with the #3 and #4 discrimination, and I had already watched ten thousand people bomb on the threadle at #5. Before going in, after watching quite a few dogs take that #5 as a serpentine despite their handlers' attempts, I almost decided to try a different, desperate handling strategy. But, fortunately, my cooler brain prevailed. We had spent so much time in Rachel Sanders' classes working on the technique for the threadle--SO DANG much time--that I decided I would just rely on the strength of those many repeated practices, then and repeatedly in my own yard over the last couple of years. We've never been truly smooth at it, but we both know the drill and can usually execute it, clumsily but successfully. And I'm glad we did. It was really clumsy indeed, and we're lucky we weren't called for a refusal on the second half, but we did it. She was lovely all the way through, and now we're done with that.

I'm going to try posting a video later today.

But--we made another milestone on Sunday that, interestingly, I found that I felt more strongly about than the ADCH. Tune in later, same ADCH time, same ADCH channel--


  1. Yeah!!!! A huge congratulations on your ADCH. What a comeback after the knee and the flu. Sometimes all the adversity pays off. And a great run.

    Way to go!!!


  2. Whoo-hoooooooo! Congratulations! it's truly a milestone to reach the ADCH. In no other venue is the dog and handler team tested to the same extent. You have to demonstrate the ability to perform all the obstacles skillfully and quickly, demonstrate that you can handle your dog from a distance and close up, show that your dog can work on the same course as another dog and exhibit all this talent and ability at speed. It takes hours and hours of training and practice to achieve that kind of team work and you get to do it with your best friend. Congratulations to you and to Tika.