SUMMARY: Oh, well.
Brenn and Tika have been on the same 3-dog team, with various partners, I believe 7 times prior to this event. The only occasion on which all 3 dogs managed to avoid crapping out through all 5 classes was last year at the Nationals. It was an unexpected thing, and I didn't expect it to happen again, although it was nice, and that was the place to do it, as it allowed us to squeeze into the finals.
JumpersWe all ran Team Jumpers very first thing in the morning--we were in the first height, in the first group to run, and Tika was the first of the three of us. We watched 5 of the first 6 or 7 dogs earn eliminations when the dogs cut through the side of a broad jump (instead of going straight across it) and immediately into the following tunnel, which made them off-course for not fixing the performance of the broad jump. So I handled it a little differently from my plan, and we avoided the broad jump problem.
However, Tika's taking-off-from-the-start-line-while-my-back-is-turned problem, which I don't think has happened in at least 45 trials over 2 years, decided to reappear. I was still leading out when I heard a soft sound behind me and discovered that Tika had come out to join me on the course and was now almost completely stopped. I had no idea whether she had actually taken the first two jumps, although she'd been lined up straight for them, and she was now looking straight at the 3rd jump just a couple of feet away from it, with me on the wrong side of it.
Had this been a regular event, I'd have walked off the field, but this was team, and eliminations cost you dearly. I had to hope that she had done the first 2 jumps, and let her take the next one right then or earn a refusal, and my attempt to get tothe other side coupled with her closeness resulted in a knocked bar, but when the judge marked the fault and didn't blow the whistle, that meant that she had, in fact, correctly done the first two jumps, which was a relief. Everything else went very smoothly, although I'm sure that we lost 2-3 seconds on that little maneuver of hers.
Our second partner ran a few dogs later, also with a bar down.
Our third partner started with a bar down but didn't avoid the evil broad jump problem, for an offcourse. At the nationals, that's pretty much going to guarantee that your team doesn't make the finals, unless you all do *really* well at everything else. Oh, well, we came with the intention of having a great time and seeing what we could do, and anything beyond that would've been a bonus. So, as disappointed as she was with her run, and although I thought it really sucked that so many dogs were biting it on a stupid thing like a broad jump, really it takes the pressure off of us for the rest of our runs so that (in theory) we'll do better.
Oh--the stupid broad jump; I don't mean that the handlers or dogs are stupid, I mean that the broad jump obstacle looks to the big dogs like a big, square, flat obstacle with four poles around it; I don't think that it has ever been clear to dogs where they're supposed to go over that thing, as there's no clear way to define which direction is which. This could probably be solved by adding a center pole on either side. This would be closer to being fair in comparison to the smaller dogs, where the length of the jump is clearly different from the width of the jump and so much less ambiguous. (Maybe someday I'll draw a diagram.)
Team SnookerSo we had all picked conservative courses for Snooker to avoid eliminating early with low points. However, watching other dogs run, it became clear that there'd be many, many higher-scoring dogs and that even a good run on a conservative course might not be all that great. I almost talked myself into going for a more aggressive course, but changed my mind; I liked the flow of the course I had chosen, and I had walked it thoroughly.
We ran in midafternoon. Again, Tika was the first of the three, and--so much for walking it thoroughly--I got partway through the opening and had no idea where to go next--it just didn't LOOK the way I had remembered it looking! And, BOOM, just like that, we were offcourse. Our second partner did well on their conservative course, but with an E in Jumpers and Tika's crap-out in Snooker, our 3rd partner decided to go for a more aggressive, higher-scoring run. I encouraged her. And, in fact, she did it beautifully--and then the dog stumbled somehow and crashed at #3 in the closing. So their points will also be lower than average, although notably higher than Tika's.
End of Team HopesSo I'm pretty sure that we're completely out of the running for team finals already, and it's only Thursday. Sighhh--so tomorrow's Standard and Saturday's Gamblers can just be opportunities to go for broke, I guess.
I've posted some commentary ont he courses on the Bay Team's site (see news/updates on the Main Page).