a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: A Saturday Diary

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Saturday Diary

SUMMARY: Notes about my CPE weekend by time of day. Part 1.


2:30 p.m. Go to web site and print: final running orders for the weekend, catalog front page, general info letter, workers schedule, all for my own use, and highlight my dogs' runs. Print 3 copies each of premium, complete running-order catalog, general info letter, workers schedule for CPE binders. Get three CPE binders for score table from garage, remove stuff from last trial, add new materials. Put my paperwork along with premium and entry confirmations into my trial folder. Load all into car.
4:00 p.m. Packing for the weekend: Clear out last week's accumulation of stuff from the van. Back van into driveway so I can maneuver canopy frame into it. Load bag with canopy cover and sun cloth. Load folding chair & table; bag with clips, bungies, water buckets, sheet for Boost's crate; dog mats for crates; crates; video camera; regular camera. Pull back into garage.
5:00 p.m. Fill 2 jugs of water; measure out dogfood; load into van. Pack suitcase and load.
5:30 pm I think I'm done packing. Oop, not quite. Get cooler out and into car. Load weekend's worth of drinks into fridge to cool off; load breakfast bars and fruit into bag in car. Make sure I have enough dog treats.
6:00 pm Really done now? Oh--there's a music party this weekend at a friend's. Dig out old flute and music and try playing it. It's been mannnnnnnnnny years. Yuck. But pack that, too, anyway.
6:30 Done?
8:30 I was going to go to bed by now, but it's driving me nuts that I haven't finished sorting and labeling and uploading and describing my last day of my Havasu Falls/Grand Canyon trip. It's been 2 months! Just git'er done!
11:30 p.m. Done. I'm really tired now. Take Boost out for final potty.


4:30 a.m. Omigod jeez holy.... what's that noise? Where am I? What's going on? ...Crap, it's the radio alarm. Time to get up. I do this because I like it. I do this because I like it. Repeat.
4:45 I'm dressed; potty dogs. Yay, they both cooperated & do everything, so I'll be able to relax for a while after I get to Petaluma. Load dogs into car, drinks into cooler.
4:55 a.m. Out of the driveway and to Safeway for bananas and ice.
5:05 a.m. Crap, they have no ice! Now I have to drive 2 miles in the opposite direction to the 7/11. Fortunately they have ice.
5:20 a.m. Hit the freeway. 20 minutes later than I wanted.
6:45 a.m. In Petaluma at the trial site. Because I'm Score Table Czar and because the Chair is nice, they saved me a crating spot right next to the rings and a parking spot right next to that. Unload and setup are a breeze, less than half an hour. Frisbee dogs a bit. Set up score table materials and ring timers and random other stuff that needs doing. The beginning of a typical weekend where I have hardly a minute to just sit and relax.
7:30ish General briefing, then first walkthroughs. I'm not in the first rotation, so it's just completing Wildcard scribe sheets. Fortunately I have a very reliable assigned parter for the table.
9:00 Walk through Tika's Jumpers course. Yikes, lots of very sharp turns and calloffs and a couple of tricky front crosses that I'd like to get in but not sure I can.
9:30 Tika Jumpers. She ticked a bar but didn't knock it. I miss one front cross and so she wastes a little time veering away from the best path, but not bad; she's such a good girl! (Result: Q, 1st place of 3 dogs, 7th fastest of 54 dogs all heights of 4/5/C levels who ran the same course. Not bad.)
9:40 Walk Colors for Tika and Boost. Have to choose one of two intertwined courses. For best possible runs, will require me to move laterally away from dogs in a 6-pole weave, and then later run like crazy to push them out.
10:15 Boost did great--made her weave entrance, stuck through it, no refusals on jumps, both dogs kept their bars up; didn't quite make the push out with Boost but just wasted a little time. Tika barely got a toenail into the Aframe, I guess, because the judge didn't call it, so she flew through that course, while Boost at least briefly correctly waited in her 2o2o position. (Result: Qs for both, Tika 12.90 seconds, Boost 13.26 over 63 yards, for the 3rd and 4th fastest times of all 92 3/4/5/C dogs all heights (fastest 12.73). Both took 1st in their class. I'm feeling good about Boost after one run! Maybe we'll click this weekend.)
10:30Walk Wildcard for both dogs. A little challenging, with 2 sets of weaves and two 20' tunnels lined up parallel to each other and only about 20' total across. This will be tricky.
11:00 Well, tricky, yeah! On first front cross, Boost went BEHIND me (bad dog!) and into a tunnel that I didn't want to do. In wildcard, this would have been salvageable if I could think that fast on my feet, but I don't do that well in wildcard, so I don't adjust the course for it, and anywaythe whole thing now has me too far behind her, and so I'm not in position for another turn and she takes a real off course, plus knocks a bar. No Q for her. With Tika, I adjust my handling based on results with Boost, and we barely get through it, but it looks smoother than it felt. Worrisome--she ticked a bar again, and again it didn't go down, but if she's ticking 'em, they're going to start falling eventually. Too bad, as in CPE she's sometimes had barless weekends. (Results: Tika Qed AND was fastest of all 84 3/4/5/C dogs on the same course, 19.76 seconds over 96 yards. SUCH a good girl! Yards Per Second seems very slow, for a very fast course with no contacts, but there were sharp turns and two sets of weaves, while slows things down.)
12:00 Trial seems to be running smoothly. Was foggy and quite cold this morning but now that sun's out, it's warming up, but not broiling as we'd feared. Boost starts to panic every time I take her out without a toy to focus on. This site was used for a circus, I guess, a week ago, and someone said they had lions and tigers and bears, oh my. She sniffs the ground obsessively, tail plastered to her stomach, occasionally jerking her head upright, standing almost frozen, scanning the horizon for incoming giant predators. Tika just wanders around sniffing, thinking, "huh! Interesting!" Very hard to get Boost to focus and pee when needed.

This also means I'll have to keep her completely focused on me in before going into the ring or she'll go into a panic in the ring and we won't be able to run.

12:30 Walk through Snooker for both. This is one of those annoying courses where #7 has 3 parts, #5 has two parts, one of the reds is also part of #7... gah! I pick a course that seems to walk fairly smoothly anyway, but I have to remember to run it exactly as I walked it or I risk confusing my #7 and that red. Also I'm going to lead out a long way, call the dog over the first red, and then run across the field to a set of weaves to start with. My plan is a 6 and two 7s in the opening.
1:15 Very quick disaster with Boost. The run across the field to the weaves results in her running backwards in front of me, saying what what what do you want what???? and thereby running past the weaves, then sees them and enters wrong, so I have to pull her around and try again, and now I'm in the wrong position and I go for that red/7 combo and I'm running it and all of a sudden it feels wrong and sure enough I took it in the wrong order and we're whistled off. Crud! Tika, however, handles beautifully until we get to #5 in the closing, where that predicted falling bar finally happens. (Result: Tika barely Qed, took only 2nd place of 3 dogs in her class.)
1:40 Walk Standard for Boost. Full 12-pole weaves that I'd like to move away laterally on again to stay ahead of her when I get to the Aframe. A tricky push out to the teeter--twice! Some places where it would be helpful to be able to send her to a jump. Some challenges.
2:30Boost's Standard run. Argh. Didn't write enough notes--I think she popped out of the weave and i had to go back for them, so then I was behind her at the Aframe, and she did NOT wait for the release and went ahead into an offcourse obstacle, and then there was that send/front cross thing, and she does NOT like coming back in to me on a u-turn or serp like that, for a lot of time wasted. The teeter push works ok. (One of the top competitors (also in USDAA) complimented Boost's teeters, the way she slides to the end, and I had to confess that I didn't really teach that drive, she just came with it.) On the final set of jumps to the end, she's looking back at me and jumping around instead of going over d*** jumps that are in front of her, and knocks one of the bars. (Result: no Q again.)
2:40 Walk Jackpot (gamblers) for both dogs. This is nontraditional in that you can take the gamble at any time during your run, you don't have to wait for the buzzer. AND there are two choices on the gamble, a 25-pointer and a 20-pointer. I think that if I take a running start at the 25-pointer, which requires that the dog go straight out over 2 jumps, then turn left and come back to you through a tunnel, then both dogs can do it easily. If they miss, then I can just swing around and do the other one, which is a very simply tunnel away from you and then into a tunnel back to you. The rest of my plan is a very smooth, very high point run that both dogs should be able to do easily.
3:30 I attempt the first gamble with Boost--get her revved up, take a couple of steps, then yell GO! and run her straight at the gamble jumps. I stop at the gamble line, but she's ahead of me... and she just stops and looks around and starts sniffing. JeeeeeePERS dagnabbit! So I bring her back to me and start the second gamble, and she goes out through the first tunnel,then looks at the second tunnel and comes back to me AROUND it, and then I have to run around the outside of the gamble area, trying to push her back to the far tunnel entry, and she's bouncing around and finally sees the wrong end of the tunnel. So we get no gamble, therefore no Q, AND we've wasted a whole ton of time. Then she's doing the look at me/refusal thing on jumps and we barely manage a few points before our time is up. Dagnabbit take obstacles in front of you DAGNABBIT!

Tika, however, does everything flawlessly... oh, except I guess I'm not clear enough in one place and she gets away from me and takes an unplanned jump, but we recover and still get everything done that I had planned. But all her bars stay up and she does TWO aframes with at least one full paw in the yellow zone--not ideal, but we get credit. (Result: Boost no Q, Tika 69 points and highest of all 125 dogs at the trial...with one dog at 67, then way down to one 62, one 61, and one 60 after that.)

4:00 So, for the day, Tika Qed 5 for 5 with 4 1sts and a 2nd, on a roll and heading for maybe a Perfect Weekend. One Q for Boost and a lot of disasters. There's one more class to work score table for.

The thing about having the highest score or the fastest time is both that I want to do the best that can be done for my own sense of achievement, and also that I'm always practicing for USDAA, where we need every edge we can get. Can I come up with more creative strategy than others in the point games? Can I come up with a more efficient path or more aggressive handling than others in any of the games? We so seldom place there, that I need to keep pushing myself and polishing and tweaking.

5:45 Day is done, courses are built for tomorrow, they sent out for pizza and about 25 of us sit together and eat and chat and the two biggest agility maniacs in The Bay Team are trying to figure out how we can squeeze in one more CPE and one more USDAA trial. Isn't 7 trials a year ENOUGH already??

6:30 To Cold Stone Creamery for dessert with a friend. OK, Peppermint Patties in raspberry sorbet does NOT work well.

7:15 Heading for that music party in American Canyon.

7:50 Arrive. They've got speakers and a guy on drums and 3 folks on guitars and there's much (not very good but spirited) singing going on and I say hi and have a tiny bit of pulled pork and join in a little, waiting for a peach crisp that never makes it out of the oven. The flute stays in the car.

9:00 Head to WendyWear headquarters, just 5 minutes away, where we'll be spending the night. Have the usual pleasant and interesting chat, then potty dogs and...

10:15 In bed. Lights out.

Sunday later and maybe course maps.


  1. Glad to find your blog. Always interested in the dog community. Too much fun competing. I just need to train my wild ones to be decent hosts at our dog-friendly B & B.

  2. I remember the very first thought in my head when my alarm rang on the second day of my first agility trial was, 'I hate agility'. I guess I've learned to get over it but there are still some days I wonder about myself.

    Congrats on all the other results.

  3. Yeah, wish I could afford to take all day Friday off and just drive casually there and get a good night's sleep.

    About dog-friendly B&Bs: Former Bay Teamers moved to Oregon and run their own dog-friendly B&B, Crystalwood Lodge. I don't know whether they still have their own pet dogs or just their sled-racing team (which stays away from the tourists), but I wonder whether "B&Bs with dogs" is a fresh area for someone to start a yahoo group or something?