a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Things Is Looking Pretty Good Here

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Things Is Looking Pretty Good Here

SUMMARY: Tika has a good weekend and Boost improves.

The weekend was mostly sunny, with a chill breeze, rising to a frigid wind in the afternoon. The shade fabric bellied out like the canopy was making way for Tortuga. This is a site where you have to stake your canopy very well. I know of only one that took flight on this weekend, but there may have been others. Cold fingers, working the score table! But good for running dogs.

Because Tika had been so sore earlier in the week, I scratched her from all but three runs a day. She seemed to thrive, either because she was jealous of Boost getting so many runs, or because of the wind, or because she was just feeling good. On Saturday, She qualified in Jumpers (that's four in a row! Amazing!) without placing. She got very excited for her Gamblers run and I decided to even put her over two dogwalks (something I usually avoid for her in Gamblers) plus two A-frames, and she got all four (barely), and fast, too, not slowing to a cautious pace. Didn't get the gamble, though--I didn't handle it well.

AND Tika qualified in Steeplechase! Two weekends in a row! Now *that's* astonishing. We were 6th of 7 Qing dogs, so again just a little over a second under qualifying time, but I'll take it!

On Sunday, she and her pairs partner ran clean and placed third of 32 teams, woo! She did Snooker, and earned a Qualifying score and again seemed happy and driven, but a little matter of an Aframe flyoff kept her out of the placements. At the very end of the day, we were last in the scheduled runs for Jumpers, with Steeplechase to follow quickly thereafter. I almost pulled her from Jumpers because I wanted her full effort for Steeplechase, but when she came out of her crate and started playing like a lunatic with her frisbee, I decided to leave her in. Glad I did--she won! One of our very few 1st places in Masters--our fifth. Not a huge class, only 17 dogs, but--OK, I'll take that, too! So that's FIVE Jumpers in a row.

And then, for Steeplechase Round 2, she again went for the frisbee with gusto instead of wanting to sniff at the ground. She had a lovely run, although I didn't give enough notice on one turn and she went VERY wide. That probably made a difference in our placement, because she took 3rd and the difference in time between 1st and 4th was only about a second. (Of the fastest two dogs from round 1, one scratched and one had a 5-point fault, knocking them out of the running.) So we got another lovely placement ribbon and another small handful of money to take home.

So she Qed 5 of 6 and placed in 3 of 4 runs today. A very good USDAA weekend for Tika.

Boost had a few stretches or full runs that looked very smooth. Still bobbles with some hesitation or turning the wrong way afterwards, still bars coming down, but not so haphazard and confused-looking as it was even just 3 weeks ago. She had I think the second highest opening points in Gamblers, but the gamble was beyond me and Tika, so I really bungled it with Boost.

Her weaves were spotty--did two sets of 6 in Saturday's snooker, made her entry in Saturday Standard but popped out early, did them beautifully in Steeplechase Round 1 after first turning back to me because she was so far ahead. In fact, other than that and running past the last jump before I caught her and brought her back, her Steeplechase run was lovely--and, despite the two bobbles, Qualified!

That's The Booster's first Steeplechase Q. Her sister, Bette, also qualified with a similar time--we were 13th and 14th out of 15 Qs.

On Sunday, she had a very nice Relay run, with only one runout, but her partner was off-course, so no Q. Her weaves were nice in the relay (6 poles); in Standard, she made the first pole and then turned back to me, then after entering correctly, popped out at the end (our only fault in that class! Dang!). But in Steeplechase Round 2, she did two full sets of weaves perfectly without a blink, with no babysitting.

Furthermore--her Steeplechase run was a thing of beauty! Fast, focused, only one brief hesitation before a jump where I didn't get my front cross in, probably added a second or so to our time--but her time at 29.60 was faster than the winning dog at 29.72. (Compare to the fastest dog--who had faults--at 27.81, and Tika's time of 33.09.) A beautiful, beautiful run with only one, er, well, tiny fault--she cut the corner on the broad jump for an off-course. (I wouldn't have bothered to try bringing her back to correct it even if I could have possibly pulled her away from doing the following tunnel.) The run felt good! She looked good! And she proved that she really does have that speed, even with a 2-on/2-off Aframe. It was a truly lovely way to end the weekend.

So--only the one Steeplchase Q for her, but lots of promising things.

A fun side note is that, of the 7 26" dogs in Round 2, four were from our Thursday night class; one scratched and the rest of us placed 2nd/3rd/4th.

And I had lots more I was going to talk about--what a great group of people to work with at the trials and how they make me laugh; other friends' successes; bittersweet visiting with an agility friend who's back in town because her husband (also agility) recently passed away. Hearing all weekend at the trial how well Ashley and Luka were doing at the AKC tryouts for this year's World Team, and how they won today, thank goodness; as someone else commented, they're the right team for the job, they do so well so consistently and he seems unflappable. The dogs chasing Ken The Gadget Man's (owner of the Segway I rode the other week) kite. Miscellany like that. But I'm exhausted. To bed.


  1. Naughty naughty to run but congrats on Tika's performance. Just got back from tryouts and Luka did win a spot and had some great runs, although their start line stays apparently are a work in progress. ;)

  2. Their start-line stays have been a work in progress since they joined our class as novices, if I recall correctly :-). But I think they got worse as Luke got more excited about doing agility instead of being a hesitant, worried dog.

    Hope you had a good time at the tryouts.


  3. Well, ya know... our startlines have been really good recently... no problems at all. But I guess the extra layer of excitement and tension at tryouts amplified the problem. Luka's startline is a strange beast. She is uneasy about the instant of separation...and so she tends to get up when I leave her. She doesn't bolt, she just stands up and walks slowly forwards. If I get away from her even just one yard her startline is much better, she may bark at me and pounce forward a step, but she doesn't bolt. I think it'll always be a "work in progress" :) Good job I can run!

  4. You're lucky if she doesn't knock that first bar after slowly edging forward. That was a problem with Tika, who did the same thing from a sit stay. A year or so ago I switched her to a Down, which she wanted to do anyway a good portion of the time, and it's much harder for her to creep forward and she's less likely to kill that first bar. It's not perfect, but it helps. Me. Who can't run.

    Next time around I'll ask for legs like yours. Do you think I'd look good with your haircut? Cuts down wind resistance, I'm sure.