a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: OK, We'll Take It

Saturday, August 30, 2008

OK, We'll Take It

SUMMARY: In which we get some Qs the hard way.

The morning started chilly and foggy, which kept the day cool. Sun came out around noon and stayed out, but by mid-afternoon a cold wind had kicked in again.

Today's classes: Grand Prix Round 1, in which you must have 5 or fewer faults to Q and also to go on to Round 2, where one can earn a bye into the Nationals semifinals if you end up in the top 50%. (Next year, you'll need 0 faults to Q.)

And DAM team classes: Jumpers, Standard, Snooker, Gamblers, and the 3-dog relay. Where all 3 partners' scores are cumulative across all 5 runs to determine whether you Q--you have to end up within 25% of the top 3 teams' average cumulative score.

Tika's day

Tika mostly did well. I thought that she finally ran clean in Grand Prix (something like 20 of her 25 lifetime Qs are 5-faulters), but no, there was a 5-point fault, so it had to have been the dogwalk up contact. Still, now we have one more chance in Round 2 tomorrow to try to earn that career-long elusive bye into the semis. But the other dogs just keep getting faster and faster--

Her Jumpers run was very nice; our team as a whole placed 4th in jumpers out of 64 teams.

Her Standard I think was clean, too, but one partner went offcourse for an Elimination, and in Team, the one thing you don't want to do is E (or crap out early on the point-scoring classes).

We did fine in Snooker; I picked a conservative course in part because I wanted to run the same course with both dogs so I wanted one Boost could do, in part because I didn't think that we'd make time on anything more aggressive. You had the option of doing 4 reds, but I picked 3 reds with a 7-6-4 opening, and we got through it just fine--in 49.something seconds with a course time of 50, so I was right about the timing, and I think that put her about 12th of 64 dogs.

In Gamblers, we got 0 points on a dogwalk again in the opening for the up contact, and in the closing, she veered off to the side of the course and came to a complete stop, air-sniffing. Not sure whether the people on the other side of the chute from her had food, or what, but it cost us precious time. I thought that I could squeeze in two obstacles before the finish line, but nooo--whistle blew and we lost all our closing points. So she had a *very* low-scoring gamblers run.

One of our partners also didn't get really high points in gamblers, probably because of a teeter up-contact in the closing. Still, after 4 rounds, we were about 1/3 of the way up into the Qing teams, so if we could avoid Eing in the relay (which counts for a HUGE number of points), we'd earn a Q for the whole thing.

She had been getting slower and slower all day, and seemed more reluctant to run, and I was worried whether she was sore.

But when I got her out around 6:00 for her Team Relay run, she was frisky and excited, and she ran beautifully. Too beautifully--the one hard part where I knew that I had to come to a complete stop and call her hard, well, I called "Tika, COME!" but she was so fast that she was ahead of me and so I didn't STOP and plant and wait for her to come in, and bam, just like that, we had Eed. So I was entirely sure that we hadn't Qed, and my partners headed off to camp (or home) for the day.

I was taken completely by surprise when they announced the Qualifiers and we had squeaked in by the barest of margins at the bottom of the heap. OK, I'll take it!

And, so, OK, I shouldn't even think about this--but so far that's 3 for 3 Qs for Tika this weekend.

Boost's day

So much for our short-found success on runouts, refusals, and bar-knocking. Those won't kill you in team the way they would in regular classes, except that three Rs in one run does cause an Elimination.

In Grand Prix, we were bouncing around jumps like a pinball game. I think that we somehow got away with only 15 faults between bars, runouts, and refusals, but of course a really slow time and nowhere near Q range.

In Team Jumpers, we already had a bar down and a refusal when we got to a difficult wrap jump that quite a few dogs back-jumped for an Elimination, but I thought I had it figured out... of course, we backjumped it. Crap!

In Team Standard, the carnage continued, with 2 bars, a runout, and a refusal, but at least we didn't E. (Our time plus faults ended up being something like 65 points, but an E would have cost us 120, so at least we held on by our toenails.)

In Snooker, she knocked the 2nd red on the far side of the field, the only one that was very difficult to get to a replacement red, but we actually managed to work our way through a bunch of obstacles to fix it, and then into the closing, and she hadn't knocked any other bars, and we were running straight at jump #6, and suddenly she stopped and turned in front of me, and I nearly tripped, and that was a refusal, so we didn't get 6 or 7. So it was an average score, but I really had wanted to make up for that jumpers E.

In Gamblers, she actually did very well. She knocked the first bar (costing 1 point); ran past one required jump that we had to go back for, which was OK, just cost time; ran past another 1-pointer in the opening; and ran past a 2-pointer in the closing. But our timing was otherwise beautiful. She did everything I asked for, her contacts were lovely, and we ended up 12th of 111 dogs even with those bobbles and lost points. I was happy about that one.

Oddly enough, I thought that Tika's team was doing much better than Boost's, but after 4 rounds when I looked, Boost's team was actually one place ahead of Tika's! And so also about 1/3 of the way into the Q list. So all we had to do was all 3 of us avoid E-ing in the relay round, and we'd finally earn Boost's first-ever DAM Q! I was a little stressy, you might guess.

In team, I was more worried about getting her through a difficult part of her course (different from Tika's) than I was about Tika's run, and it wasn't completely smooth, but we did it! And then our partners were clean, too! So we finally have our first DAM Team Q.

On the down side, obviously one week of work wasn't enough to eradicate the runouts and refusals, although I think it was better than last weekend. On the up side, wow, she is doing weaves beautifully, her contacts are still lovely, and I haven't broken her start-line stay yet, although I did see once that she was standing up before I released her, and I let her get away with it (because it was a team event). So all is not lost, and in fact the weaving is looking very good finally. I hope that stays fixed!

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