a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Mostly Better Than Feared

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mostly Better Than Feared

SUMMARY: USDAA trial went generally well for us, on many counts.

Here's what I had rattling around in the Things To Worry About Department of my brain before today:
  • Tika has done almost no agility, and NO 26" jumps, in almost 4 weeks. She'd been sore (briefly) back then. Would a sudden rash of 5 classes in one day at 26" wipe her out? Would she be able to do them at all?
  • How come we haven't been able to to get that danged 15th Gamblers leg for our Bronze Gamblers? And will I ever, since I haven't practice distance work with her for 3 months?
  • Would the freeway between here & there still be closed due to flooding for our trip up this morning?
  • Would the ground under the horse arena cover (for our trial) be flooded? Filled with goopy mud?
  • Its been raining and gloomy and REALLY COLD (for rain) with bone-piercing arctic wind all week--this could be a miserable day, even with closing panels on half of the arena, because you still have to load & unload the car and potty the dogs and DRIVE in it.

But I needn't have spent the calories fretting. The freeway was still closed when I got up at 4 this morning, but by the time I picked up my friend with her dogs Scully and Sparkle, it was open. It wasn't raining at all, anywhere along the trip. The temps went all the way up into the mid-60s and there wasn't a breath of wind all day. The arena had one area maybe 10 feet by 3 feet that was floody & muddy, but it didn't really affect us much. The day started with a drop-dead gorgeous sunrise that started out awesome and just got better for the next 10 minutes.


Tika was SO excited to be doing agility, and no sign of soreness. Her first run of the day was gamblers, and MAN, she flew around that course! Even her dogwalk and teeters were super-fast, as we've been working on (before her medical and rain hiatus anyway). She was one of only about 10 of 76 Masters dogs who got the gamble. I thought that she had actually managed to beat everyone else (rare for Tika) by 2 points total, too, but apparently her fast dogwalk was not as accurate a dogwalk as it had looked to me, because we didn't get points for it, dropping us to 3rd of 19 26" dogs. But I know I shouldn't complain--she ran great, looked great, executed everything beautifully, got a hard gamble, and finished that Gamblers Bronze! (Now it's just the danged Jumpers...)

In fact, she Qed 3 of 5 for the weekend, also taking 3rd of 19 in Standard 26". Also had a nice pairs run, but the course was pretty easy and, so, many many many teams Qed and had very fast times. She and partner were 12th of 27 Open teams.

She knocked NO bars! Woooooo! Didn't Q in Jumpers because I tried to do a bit of a send-and-run, and managed to pull her past a jump for a refusal, dagnabbit.

And she backjumped on a wrap in the Snooker opening, but had successfully negotiated 11 jumps in a row up to that point without knocking any, so that was a bit of a victory.


Boost ran very nicely, looking more like a Master dog all the time, although the Q rate is still low. I knew that the gamble would be extremely difficult for her, and she failed exactly where I thought she would, but she DID do a serp leading into it with no effort at all--a big improvement. Her opening was nice but did the "THIS tire? You mean THIS tire? THIS one?" refusal in the opening and I just help my position and waited until she took it, so she didn't get all the way through our last Teeter (still in the air)--otherwise she'd have tied for highest opening points.

In Jumpers, she came past a sharply angled jump (my fault for not remembering what a babydog she is) AND knocked a bar, but otherwise she flew around that course without hesitations or bobbles. Looked good.

In Snooker, another babydog/overly assuming mom error--I thought she was with me while running for the next jump, and suddenly realized that there was no dog going over it--nor anywhere to be seen--and she had gone in a different direction than I thought we were going (took my eyes off her, in other words).

In Standard, oh, it was LOVELY, dang it, except for one "THIS jump? You mean THIS jump? THIS one?" refusal--but two in five runs compared to several per run like we were sometimes doing last year is a big improvement.

And in team--whoo!--she screamed around that course (figuratively, not literally--none of my dogs, thank goodness, have ever voiced while running) and her partner was pretty danged fast, too; they were 4th fastest of all 37 teams but she knocked a bar, so Q but no placement. But even with that 5-point fault added to their time, they were half a second faster than Tika's pair. Now, THAT's a fast team!


I had a good time with my friends, being score table supervisor and keeping busy, taking photos (an assortment shown here), playing a fast, challenging sport with my dogs-- let's hear it for a 2 month vacation from agility and for a 1-day trial. Even my failures as a handler didn't seem so galling today.

As much as it would slow down our Title Chase, maybe I really do need to take more time off from agility. WOuld certainly help my pocketbook, but maybe it would help my enjoyment of the basic experience of agility more, too.

New rescue sheltie, at a year and a half just joining a family dynasty of outstanding agility shelties.
The photographer is caught at her foul work again.
The remnants of a favorite one of these (I've had some that look like this).
On the trial secretary's box, the added tag says, "How special can it be if there's no beer?"


  1. Congrats on a great day and really glad Tika is feeling good! I love it when you take a break and come back with a bang! Feels soooo good!

  2. Yeah, what Johann said!

    Very cool about Tika's Gamblers Bronze title! I get such a kick out of watching a team totally in sync, executing a difficult gamble while making it look easy. I haven't dared enter Walter in Masters Gamblers yet; we kind of fluked our way through Advanced so we need to do some serious catching up on our distance skills.

    For me, distance stuff ranks way up there in the Cool Factor you mentioned before. :-)

  3. Oh, yeah, Cool Factor is really important in agility! ;-)

    Know what you mean about masters gamblers. Boost aced Novice & Advanced gamblers and we have yet to get a Masters Gamblers leg, although that was the first class in which she moved up to Masters. So there's definitely a difference in the difficulty level.