a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Master Dogs

Monday, September 24, 2007

Master Dogs

SUMMARY: Sometimes you feel like a Master, sometimes you don't.

Master Gamblers Tika no Q. Did hard part of gamble but turned wrong way.
Boost No Q. Didn't stick start line, didn't stick her Aframes. Good: did DW in gamble.
Steeplechase Tika No Q. Bar and ran over broadjump. 28.86 with fastest at 26.94. SCT of 35.20, but our 10 faults gave us 38.86. Zut alors!
Boost No Q. Didn't stick start line and made her come back and sit. Followed by a flawless run but over time.
Saturday Standard Tika (Masters) Q and 2nd of 20
Boost (Advanced) Q and 3rd of 9. AAD!
Saturday Jumpers Tika (Masters) No Q. Smooth but one bar. 27.46 with winner at 26.67.
Boost (Advanced) E? Couple of bars plus bad handling for offcourse.
Pairs Relay Tika (Masters) No Q. Tika clean, partner offcourse
Boost (Advanced) Q and 1st place
Masters Snooker Tika Q and 8th of 21; popped one Aframe in opening which = superQ points
Boost Ha! 6 points! Tied for 37th of 39
Sunday Jumpers Tika (Masters) E; knocked 2 bars so tried risky layering = offcourse
Boost (Advanced) E; 20.55 seconds compared to winners (very fast) 22.00; beautiful but sent her into the wrong end of the tunnel twice, plus bar
Sunday Standard Tika (Masters) No Q; Knocked 1st bar, popped dogwalk AND aframe
Boost (Advanced) No Q; bar, refusal, handling mistake for offcource
Grand Prix Tika Q and 2nd of 21; only 3 clean, only 4 Qed; 13 Eed.
Boost Q and 11th of 46; only 15 Qed; 24 Eed.

Tika's Contacts

Well, the saga of "Tika has running contacts" continues. Flew off an A-frame in Gamblers and barely stuck the 2nd one and didn't try to fix 'em. Should have. Somehow she hit A-frame and Dogwalk in Saturday's Standard, a challenging course that only 5 of 20 dogs Qed on. But she didn't even pretend to hit bottom. Still, she placed 2nd! Only the second time she has placed higher than 3rd in 70 Masters Standard attempts. In Snooker, we did four A-frames and she popped one of them in the opening, which would have given us Super-Q points. In Sunday's Standard she flew off BOTH the dogwalk and the A-frame--and I made her come back and lie down each time.

So, after that, in the Grand Prix, she actually got feet into the contacts both times (but by slowling way down, and even so, not a hint of a two-on/two-off pretense) and not only Qed on a course where only 3 of 21 of the 26" dogs ran clean, but also placed 2nd! That's the first time she has placed higher than 6th out of her 38 Grand Prix attempts. And only her fourth clean Grand Prix ever.

She didn't get called on her dogwalk up contact all weekend; that's two weekends in a row. So we go from the up zone to the down zone, I guess. Sigh. REALLY need to retrain contacts over the winter and STICK WITH IT, DANGIT!

Tika Over All

So those two second-place finishes were to be proud of, and I'm pleased with them. But getting only 3 Qs out of 9 is low for us. Bars, contacts, and a couple of Stupid Handler Tricks. Back to bar-knocking drills, too-- I think she knocked 6 this weekend, 2 (?) being the first jump of a run, and one triple on a send/front-cross/pull in an otherwise beeeeyutiful Jumpers run.

And what about that Broad Jump in Steeplechase?! RAN across it! Never seen her do that before, and I don't think it was much of an angle, either. That's twice that a broad jump has taken us out in Steeplechase. Guess I gotta haul mine out from under the deck.

Boost's Weaves

Woohoo! Perfect weaves! Every time! Like she's been doing 'em for years! What a difference from Labor Day weekend. We did 5 sets of weaves, from all angles and directions, and she nailed every entry and stayed in even when I moved way away to get into position for the next obstacle. I am SOOOOOOO happy about that, as that has been our killer in plenty of runs in the last year where we were otherwise clean. Still, watching one video, I timed them at about 2.7 seconds, which is half a second slower than we've timed them in the yard and class. They looked pretty fast, but I guess there's still a little confidence issue in competition. Oh, well, that'll come!

Boost's Handling

Boost also seems to be almost over the runout or refusal problems that we've worked on over and over. Only one really bad jump refusal muckup on a badly done rear cross where I meant to do a front cross, and only one runout where I left her in the weaves and ran ahead but didn't give her any clues where to go after the weaves. She handled really smoothly in almost everything else, except Saturday's Standard--where we had a couple of jump refusals (not counted in Advanced) and held it together for a Q, which is all we needed to MOVE UP TO MASTERS in everything! Scary and also a relief to be in the same level as Tika.

Her Grand Prix run--again, a tough one where only 15 of 46 22" dogs Qed--was beautifully smooth. She knocked a bar on a very deeply angled serpentine, but at least she's doing the serps, which a couple of months ago we were still struggling with. She's now really starting to work to take the jumps instead of going around them or stopping.

Her Steeplechase was a thing of beauty. I could not have asked for a more gorgeous Steeplechase run. The run itself was flawless. But...

Boost's start line and contacts

So, my comfort through all those botched weaves and refusals and runouts was that my baby dog has rock-solid start line stays and 2 on/2 off contacts. Naturally, now that the other things seem fixed, BOOM! everything else breaks!

In the first run of the weekend (Masters Gamblers), while I was leading out, a little gray blur shot over the first jump and past me. I called her back and said "oh my goodness!" or something like that and told her to sit, whereupon the judge told me to continue immediately or leave the course. Of course, that would be training in the ring. I decided that that very brief sit was sufficient, didn't attempt to finish my leadout, and ended up behind her all the way through the opening, so we had lots of wasted time and space--PLUS she hit her A-frame bottom but did NOT wait for the release! So on the second A-frame, I really held her. So our opening pointage was low.

In the second run of the weekend, the Steeplechase, I again put her into a sit and confidently led out--and a little gray blur shot over the first jump and past me. I managed to scream her name a foot before she actually hit the A-frame, called her back to me, made her line up next to me, and put her into a sit again. This judge didn't give me any verbal warning, so I completed my lead-out, released her, and continued in that absolutely gorgeous flawless run. But, as a result, we were almost 4 seconds over time.

Still, that and the Grand Prix give me hope for our future in Masters. Plus--we had no more problems with the start line for the rest of our 7 runs, so if that fixed the problem permanently, it was well worth giving up the Steeplechase for.

But she was fighting her sticky contacts all weekend. In that smooth Grand Prix, she came off her dogwalk before I released her, so I made her come back and lie down. That was a 4.5 second delay; the rest was lovely including a teeter that she SLID down the last foot! And stuck it! Beautiful! Her time of 36.34, with that extra 4.5 seconds, was .15 slower than Tika (who was NOT holding her contacts) and 2.03 slower than the winning 22" dog. So she's moving!

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