a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Turkey Trotters

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Turkey Trotters

SUMMARY: #4 of several posts about this weekend. A little info about the Turkey Trot and our Teams

The happy Top Turkey and the nifty embroidered badge we had to wear all weekend under penalty of funky turkey hat.
Blue Chocolate Sandwich.

Tika's Team

We assembled the team on the spot, including Tika, a fast German Shepherd named Trinity who often beats Tika in USDAA, and a pretty fast aussie named Rebel. I cobbled together a team name on the fly: "Tika Rebels against the Trinity." I've known who the handlers were but never talked to them much; talked a little more this weekend as a result of the team, which of course is one of the purposes for doing this game.

The other two handlers are slower than even I am--on this course, it was a bit of a handicap to be a slow handler--but their dogs are fast and all of the dogs are pretty experienced, so we were able to do most of the things that we wanted to do, and luck was with us also. We came in tops of 12 teams in the big-dog division.

Boost's Team

Arranged beforehand. I already knew one handler--we've been competing against each other in a friendly way since she was a teenager with her sheltie, Max, and I had Jake in his prime. She and a friend have very amazingly fast chocolate labs, Cajun and Lula. Cajun was among those topping Tika in some classes, but fortunately was in a different height division so didn't displace Tika's first places. (Whew!) We named ourselves Blue Chocolate Sandwich, and it turns out that we didn't quite synchronize our story and strategy beforehand, so we did more than almost any other team but in fact barely got more credit than most teams, just squeaking out a 2nd place. Still, I'm pretty happy with a 1st/2nd finish with my dogs. (Sure, what the heck!) And the labs' handlers are the nicest young ladies, besides being half my age and almost as fast as their dogs! Nice of them to team with this elderly, stiff-kneed, whiney old lady.

The Rules

Very brief synopsis. I've asked for permission to post the whole thing. The field had 7 different mini-courses of 3 or 4 obstacles. The farther they were from the start line, the harder they were, incorporating more contacts or, for the farthest hidden-in-the-corner wildcard one, a gamble with weaves. Each successful sequence earned you a letter. Goal was to try to spell TURKEY and possibly get more bonus points with wildcards.

Dogs had to alternate on course--do one sequence and get back over the start line before the next could go. You had 4 minutes for your team. Some things that complicated it were that, if you messed up, you had to restart your sequence to earn points (or leave the course and let your partner try), and if your dog accidentally took an obstacle from a sequence that you didn't mean to do, you had to do that sequence instead.

Elements of chance included:
  • When you completed a seqence, you got a sealed paper, which you couldn't open until you got back across the start line, so you didn't know what letter you had earned until then.
  • The same letter was worth various points at different times, so even if everyone spelled exactly TURKEY, odds were good that the totals would be different.
  • The points for each letter were sealed until the scorekeeper tallied them all at the end, so you didn't know the point values that you had accrued. This was tricky when you inadvertently got more than one of the same letter--you just had to pick one of them to use and hope that you were picking one with higher points.
  • The wildcards could be used for any letter, but again, the points were unknown until the scorekeeper looked at them, so you didn't know whether you were helping and by how much.

It was pretty entertaining, and there was some strategy to it after we had spent most of the day figuring out the rules, and also some skill in being able to get to the seqence that you wanted and completing it successfully.

As it turns out, Tika's team had 730 points, because we managed to earn two wildcards with pretty high points AND lucked out and got higher-point letter value cards, also. Boost's team beat 3rd place by only 40 points, and that was entirely on the strength of the one wildcard we earned, which happened to be very high points, while all our letter points were lower-pointers.

Might make more sense if I can post the whole thing later this week.

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