a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Silver Dog Part 1 and Those Dang Obstacles

Monday, June 04, 2007

Silver Dog Part 1 and Those Dang Obstacles

SUMMARY: In which Tika completes her Tournament Master Silver title and Boost still isn't convinced that taking obstacles is the best course.

This weekend we had one each of the five regular classes, plus Grand Prix and Steeplechase, and on Sunday the five events of the Dog Agility Masters team tournament.

Net for the weekend: Tika 3 Qs out of 7 chances and a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; Boost 1 out of 8 with a 1st.

Tika regular classes

In regular classes, Tika did very well in Gamblers but I messed up big-time in the opening TWICE (so much for being more awake friday evening) and we didn't finish our weave poles before the whistle blew, dropping us from 3rd place to 6th. But it was still a Q. And once again she did well in Jumpers. Thought we'd do better--the first 8 dogs in our height class failed to run clean, and then Tika did it, but apparently we set the pace because ended up only 3rd of 18 dogs.

Standard started with 3 obstacles in a row with the dog running straight into bright lights (9:00 at night) with a huge shadow made of the Aframe and the dark tunnel next to it. More dogs than usual knocked the first bar or ran past the tunnel entrance; Tika managed both. Still, so many dogs messed up so much that we ended at 4th of th dogs who stayed late enough to finish the class. I believe only one of the 10 dog Qed in our height.

In Snooker they actually had a dogwalk at #5 and Tika got called for the up contact in the closing; and in Relay I overcrossed on a front cross and pushed her right into the wrong obstacle. But she was fast and happy ALL weekend despite hot (I'm guessing around 90), somewhat humid weather.

Tika GP & Steeplechase

I felt less and less competent as the weekend went on; Tika running beautifully and me doing stupid things. I called her in very bad places on the Steeplechase for two knocked bars AND making her land in the middle of the spread jump, and finally at the end, I planned an aggressive front cross to keep her off a wrong obstacle, but decided halfway there that I wasn't going to make it and stopped and she just sailed over the wrong obstacle while I yelled futilely.

Tika Team

We were teammates with Brenn and Savanna, both Border Collies, and since Tika's listed as Aussie, we used the team name Borderin' on K-Aus (thanks, Gwen!). And that's the way I ran...

Tika managed 2nd in Team Snooker of 21 dogs and 3rd in Team Gamblers. However, in the Standard on a place where I knew there was an off-course possibility, I yelled "Come!" and when she wasn't coming, I yelled "Come!" louder and she still went off course. I know better than that! Especially after telling my teammates during the walk-through to use their dogs' names!

So then, in the Jumpers course, where I knew there was an off-course possibility, I yelled "Come" really loudly and then when she didn't, I yelled "Come!" even louder and she still went off course.

Just stupid stupid stupid. And we don't do off-courses all that often, really.

Still, Brenn was consistently very good (won Team Standard) and Savanna had only one E and otherwise did well, so we managed to squeak by with a team Q for Tika's Tournament Silver title, which is her first category to reach Silver. The rest are a lonnnng way away.

Boost Standard Classes

The Advanced courses were all very hard. At least one of the five had no qualifiers at all. Boost got her only Q of the weekend and a first place with the bare minimum 37 points in Snooker and she was one of only a couple of dogs of any height who finished the Snooker. We had offcourses; can't do lateral lead-outs again (dang! something else that was fixed and is now broken again); and she still isn't getting the idea of doing obstacles in front of her.

In gamblers, we bobbled both back-to-back contacts that I tried (something else to go back & practice again) so didn't end up with that many opening points, and I thought we were going to get the gamble--jump to weaves to jump--when she made her weave entry perfectly and started blasting through them, but at about pole #8 she realized that I was 20 feet away and exited straight towards me to see what I was up to. Dang. Something ELSE to practice. It's hard to get 20 feet away in my yard, but we certainly do 10 often.

BUT--ta-da--by the end of the weekend, she was doing most of her weaves perfectly the first time. So there's something to feel good about. (Didn't start that way--in Standard, we tried 4 times and never did get them. But after that it gradually improved.)

Boost GP and Steeplechase

Grand Prix was actually pretty darned good, but we had an off-course on a very tight, tough turn to a tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. But it was probably our smoothest full run of the weekend.

In Steeplechase, we had about 3 refusals before jumps before we even got to the weaves and she ran past them, then skipped some poles. So the 2nd time through the weaves, when she entered & did them perfectly, I made a big Hurrah fuss and exited fast & happy straight out over the nearest jumps.

Boost Team

Boost entered with sister Bette and Australian Kelpie Maiya (which is the Klingon wod for "friend") as "Two Sisters on a Star Trek." All fast, young dogs.

Boost Eed on both std & jumpers and were near the bottom in snooker and gamblers due to the not-taking-obst's problem. Bette did GREAT, though! Still, between Boost & Maiya, we managed to place next to last, only because I believe the last-place team gave up and went home before the last couple of runs. Sigh.

BUT in that jumpers--she was beautiful except that on a fast front cross where I took my eyes off her she went past a jump and I didn't realize it. It was really a lovely jumpers run anyway and I felt very good about it. No refusals or bobbles anywhere except that. Have it on tape and will try to upload here eventually.

And her portion of the Team Relay was spot on, while our partners both went off course, so felt much better about Boost after her last 2 runs.

Bette, though--wow! Out of 33 dogs in our height class, Bette placed 8th, 12th, 6th, and 4th in the individual DAM events! For a 2-year-old baby dog with a handler miserable on Saturday about how bad a time she's having in competition with Bette, it was very impressive. And they all looked beautiful, too. I suggested to her that she was ready to move on to a team with more consistent dogs and handlers and that I wouldn't be bothered by it; I love seeing her success. Of course I love the idea of teaming with a sister dog, but oh well, I'll just have to keep practicing.

Didn't leave Turlock until nearly 8 p.m. For some reason they had only one judge who could judge the Team events, so the other judge just sat there all day Sunday. I thought she was going to be judging some of it, but apparently not. So each class had to wait for the other ring to finish before the judge was available, and it made for a lonnnng day.


  1. "...only 3rd of 18 dogs" Well, geez, couldn't you do any better than that? I mean really. ;)

    Congrats on Tika's Silver award, very cool.

  2. OK, yes, I'm bad--never satisfied. A year ago today I'm sure I was moaning about never getting placement ribbons. Because in all of Tika's Masters and Tournament career (well--2 years at that point), she had placed in the top 4 only 12 times. Now I want those blue ones! Cuz it's my favorite color, of course! And because in the last year we've placed 20 times in Masters/Tournament but only twice in 1st.

    One always needs a goal. :-)