SUMMARY: You've read the blog, you've seen the trial, NOW in theaters near you: CPE Weekend By The Clock!
Since we're about to disappear for a weekend of USDAA agility, we figure that it's about time for us to post our notes from our March 21-22 CPE trial, huh? Am I right?
The lights in the theater dim, and you sit back, ready to experience an entire CPE weekend IN REAL TIME, minute by minute.
Oddly enough, Team Small Dog did a minute-by-minute diary of this same trial. But only Taj MuttHall actually wrote this stuff down AS IT HAPPENED and did not INVENT times like that certain TSD did after the fact. Very weird that we both decided to do this for the same weekend. But while I was furiously scribbling notes in every spare moment, she was taking pictures. So hers is more narratively illustrated.
(ESTABLISHING SHOT: CUTEST LITTLE CUTE DOG THAT COULD BE A TEAM SMALL DOG CANDIDATE IF IT WERE, LIKE, BLACK.)
Prologue: Friday, and the camera FADES IN on:
INTERIOR GARAGE. AFTERNOON.
3:00 pm: MUTT MVR is completely packed, with a full tank of gas, ready to go. I have forgotten nothing! Have all the stuff I need for sleeping in MUTT MVR tomorrow night and everything. I can be in bed by 8 tonight for a change!
DISSOLVE TO INT. BEDROOM. NIGHT.
8:30 pm: Giving Tika a deep massage pretrial, as she was so sore at that last CPE 2 wks ago. Boost wants one, too.
9:00 pm: Um... OK, missed 8. But what's an hour of sleep anyway?
9:30 pm: Am I still awake? Dang.
Scene 1: Saturday
MONTAGE of INT. BEDROOM. STILL NIGHT.
2:15 am: Restless Boost wakes me up, What does she need? Another massage? She mucks around for a while, then goes back to sleep. But--now I'm wide awake.
2:45 am: Still awake. Do some Sudoku, which usually nods me right off.
3:00 am: Try more Sudoku.
3:15 am: Still awake. Turn out lights anyway.
3:30 am: Still awake.
3:45: Still awake.
3:50: Anticipating the weekend. Only 4 runs a day--and Boost isn't running--so we have a darned good shot at a Perfect Weekend (8 Qs out of 8) for Tika, since she can do 9 of 10 pretty regularly.
3:58: Alarm will go off in 2 minutes. Should I continue trying to fall asleep?
3:59: Up and at'm.
DISSOLVE TO: EXT. MUTT MVR. NIGHT BUT IT SHOULD BE DAWN. DANG DST.
4:20: Dressed, dogs cooperated in pottying, leap into MUTTMVR, and head for Santa Rosa, 2 hours away.
5:00: Wet stuff on windshield. Am I encountering the foretold "chance of rain"?
5:25: Crossing the Richmond/San Rafael bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay. Finally bought a FasTrak transponder last year, so don't have to stop and fish for toll money.
5:26: Long, high, narrow bridge. Me no like.
Scene 2. DISSOLVE TO: INT. ARENA SANTA ROSA. Well KIND OF INT. BECAUSE IT HAS A ROOF BUT ONLY 2 WALLS. DOES THAT MAKE IT EXT.?
6:20: Arrive at Fairgrounds. In the dark. Danged early-arriving daylight savings time! Gimme my morning daylight!
6:22: Place is empty of people, replete with crating set-ups. It's like coming home again! I belong here!
7:30: Setting up the adjunct score tables and other set-up randomness.
ESTABLISHING SHOT: TWO-RING ARENA WITH SIMULTANEOUS WALKTHROUGHS
CUT TO JUMPERS WALK-TRHOUGH:
7:50: Interesting course but really pretty easy for a fast, experienced dog like Tika (and even a slow, experienced handler like me). Piece-a-cake fer sure! A good way to start our quest for the Perfect Weekend!
7:55: But--well--huh, it sure has a lot of places where I could do front crosses. And you KNOW that 2 front crosses = 1 serpentine. And serps can really speed things up if you can pull them off. And since Tika's jumping 20" this weekend instead of 24", we're directly competing against a bunch of others.
8:00: OK, I've decided on one challenging serp, but we can do it--Tika just needs to blast out of a straight tunnel and over the jump in front of her while I fade right.
DISSOLVE TO JUMPERS RUN
8:05: On course, and Tika is FLYING! No sign of soreness! Loves the 20"!
8:05:15: We're 3/4 of the way through, Tika hits the straight tunnel, I look right and fade for the serp--don't they say never take your eyes off your dog? OK, hrm, so what's one off-course anyway? Who needs a stinkin' Perfect Weekend ribbon anyway?
CUT TO EXT. OVERCAST MORNING, LAWN.
8:30: So odd to have only one dog competing. Take Boost out to the big field to practice stays and recalls and other less-frantic running, per Physical Therapist's suggestions. I toss the toy where she can't see it and release her. I yell directions like "Left! Left! LEFT!!!" and she's just running around randomly. Huh, weren't you under the impression that this dog understands right & left commands? Another dream of agility utopia shattered.
CUT TO INT. ARENA, SNOOKER WALK-THROUGH.
9:30 We love snooker. We love getting all 51 points in CPE because it's usually so doable. We love doing it faster than anyone else. And there is so much time allowed on such a short course that I have no excuses for not doing three sevens in the opening. I just have to move quickly ahead of her while she's in the first set of weaves to get around the backside of the tunnel before she does an offcourse INTO the tunnel. Piece of cake; she's got great weaves.
DISSOLVE TO SNOOKER RUN.
9:40: Tika fast and very happy, keeps the first red bar up, and blasts into the weaves. I'm watching her go, delighting that she's looking so OH CRAP CRAP CRAP I'M SUPPOSED TO BE GETTING AHEAD OF HER TO PREVENT AN OFFCOURSE INTO... The... tunnel...
OK, Qualifying ribbons are overrated anyway, besides, I already have a ton of them from other trials. Right? Right?
CUT TO EXT. OVERCAST MORNING, LAWN.
9:50: Boost out to the field again. I have vowed that, every time Tika runs, I'll then take Boost out for interaction and exercise. So far so good. But--I am right, no response to "left" or "right" in the field with the toy out of sight. BUT-- she does when she's standing still! She does when she's running to CHASE the toy (e.g., she's running away from me, I yell left, she veers left, and THEN I throw the toy. Apparently this context--not running, not knowing where the toy is is a context in which left and right do not exist in any normal sense of the words. Perhaps in this context they mean "keep looking!"
11:30: What I'm doing between runs all weekend is working the auxiliary score table. That's finishing the scribe sheets and ascertaining Qs so that the computer can calculate placements.
SUBLIMINAL SHOT: Vicke's matching green fingernails and shirt. THat'll wake you right up.
1:00: Lunch is teriyaki chicken wrap from the lunch vendor at the Home Show down the other end of the fairgrounds. Love home shows. But our show chair said that browsing the home show and forgetting to come to the ring is NOT an acceptable excuse for missing your assigned running order, so I'd better Just Say No.
CUT TO: JACKPOT WALKTHROUGH. YES I MEAN GAMBLERS. NEVER MIND THAT EVERYONE ELSE CALLS IT GAMBLERS. EXCEPT AKC AND NADAC. OK, ALL RIGHT, ONLY USDAA CALLS IT GAMBLERS. BUT THAT'S EVERYBODY.
1:30: It's nontraditional: There's a gamble in the middle that can be taken in various ways for either 15, 20, or 25 points. You can do two for credit. Plus there's a whole boatload of tunnels together in that area--a fast tunneling dog could rack up a squillion points after doing 2 of the gambles just doing tunnels! OK, I have a really nice flowing plan with the 20+15 (the 25er is wayyy too much yardage). With the tunnels, we should end up with about 76 points. Woot! Love that kind of course. All I have to do is execute my part of the teamwork according to the plan I laid out.
DISSOLVE TO JACKPOT RUN.
1:50: Well. OK. There is always SOME flaw in my plan, and apparently today I am it. NEXT time I will remember to do my threadle Qs so she doesn't waste time doing an entire Aframe for no points and... well, heck, to just run the *#@% course I actually planned! Brain no workee. BUT Tika runs beautifully, is keeping up all her bars, and we end up with 67 points instead of 76. Out of maybe 100 dogs, only 6 end up with higher scores despite my best efforts to be lower. But TWO are in our exact group. So we end up with 3rd. With a Q. I shouldn't complain. Really. I shouldn't.
2:30: Wish I could've tried that one with Boost. All those tunnels! And my plan DID have a nice flow to it, which is what she needs with me. Woohoo!
CUT TO: EXT. LAWN, VERY DARKLY OVERCAST AND MENACING.
2:50: Out with Boost to the lawn. Can't BELIEVE she doesn't respond to left/right on the flat! Odd odd odd.
SUBLIMINAL SHOT: Liza MANAGING THE RUNNING ORDER. Actually quite cold all day.
3:00 Starts drizzling. Glasses spotting up. Coat speckled. Boost oblivious. Fortunately the rings and crating are under cover in the arena.
3:05: Rain blowing in waves past the arena. I want to sleep in MUTT MVR with THIS going on? A friend invites me to sleep at her place, about 45-60 minutes away, but I am blithely unconcerned and thank her anyway, plus that's a long way to drive.
3:10: Only Standard is left. Maybe another hour until we can walk and run, and we're up early in the running order, so I could actually maybe leave before 5 if I wanted to go somewhere else for the night. Pondered driving back to Richmond for my cousin's husband's celebratory BBQ for his sparkling new U.S. citizenship--but--in the rain? Over an hour's drive? Over that bridge twice more? Uhhhh... no.
DISSOLVE TO: INT. ARENA.
3:15: Rain pounding on the metal roof.
3:17: COOLNESS--Spike the Border Newf drops by for a visit! Good old Spike, retired now and visibly aged, was a puppy from a Border Collie/Newfoundland breeding for studying genetic behaviors at Cal Berkeley. His agility littermate, Bruno, died a year or so ago, but Spike is here for a really good scritching. His black shaggy coat glistens from the rain; his Newfie genes don't care a whit for that pounding wetness from the sky.
CUT TO STANDARD WALKTHROUGH
4:30: What a crowd-- 83 level 3/4/5/C dogs at once! OK, the course seems pretty straight-forward. Only one iffy place--coming down the Aframe, we have to make a right turn, but there's a jump straight ahead. If Tika blasts of the Frame without bothering to stop, there's a good chance for an off-course there. But forewarned is forearmed, right? And I've got plenty of forearms (at least 2), so I'm good. Right? Am I right?
SUBLIMINAL SHOT: WHAT TO DO WITH THAT ANNOYING CONE ON THE WEAVE POLES DURING THE WALKTRHOUGH.
DISSOLVE TO STANDARD RUN, THEN,
4:45: START with simple lateral lead-out pivot.
Tika DOESN'T CATCH the pivot for some reason (maybe likes 20" jumps TOO much?)
and almost TAKES offcourse,
so has to SLOOOOOOW DOWWWWWN and
TURN to get to the right place.
MISSES a rear cross and
TURNS the wrong way, wasting more time.
DOES NOT STICK THE FRAME AND DOESN'T COME WITH ME ON THE TURN--
she's BLASTING for the off-course jump and
I'm SCREAMING Come COME COOOOOOOOOOOME! when what i
SHOULD BE SCREAMING is TEEEEEEKA! because "come" usually means "go faster!" But a miracle occurs,
she throws up dust SKIDDING into a turn right in front of the jump and then
HEADING my way. More wasted time, but then we finish CLEAN! No bars down! Whatta girl!
CHEER at finish line while
Tika BITES MY SHOES.
5:15: The score tables are fully manned. My dogs have run. I have nothing to do except wait. What a weird thing for me.
SUBLIMINAL SHOT: OUR FANS.
DISSOLVE TO INT. ARENA EVENING
6:03: Finally! Done for the day! We finally managed a 1st in Standard, too, despite the wasted time, due to two things: It's apparently a very hard course, as only about 55% Qualify at all (and the lower levels can Q with faults, too), which is low for CPE. And the one dog in our group who was faster than we were had two contact faults. So there ya go.
6:15 Feed the dogs. Putting away all the score table and light-weight ring stuff for the night. I won TWO free entries in the raffle! OK, day is looking up.
6:30: Pizza arrives at the arena for the couple dozen of us who stick around. It's quite cold, but mostly stopped raining.
There's some discussion about not doing CPE any more. We always get full trials, but--we can't get someone to take over the ribbon czar position. We can't get anyone to help build the courses after the last run of the day. Same half a dozen people out of a club of 250 tired of doing the same demanding jobs. Of course, a majority of the club members don't do CPE. We'll see how this goes... we have 2 more CPEs scheduled for this year alone.
8:00: Pizza is done, conversation is done, dogs have exercised a bunch. It's cold. It's wet. I'm exhausted. I give in and call my friend and ask whether the invitation still stands. It does. We head out.
FADE SLOWLY TO: INT. HOME AN HOUR AWAY ACROSS THE MOORS.
9:50pm: In a lovely conversation with a friend while THE EVIL FLOOR experience occurs. Will write about that separately later.
10pm-6am A lovely night's sleep in a warm bed.
Scene 3: SUNDAY
CUT TO INT. ARENA MORNING, ACTUAL SUNSHINE BUT COLD.
7:15 back at the site. Set up aux score tables again, exercise dogs, etc.
DISSOLVE TO STANDARD WALKTHROUGH.
9:00 Odd angles on the contacts. Tough dogwalk/tunnel discrimination. We really blew one of those last weekend.
9:35: Warming up for run. Tika is SO excited! Loves her new milker toy! Hasn't played this much with a toy at a trial in a long time.
CUT TO: STANDARD RUN
9:40: Woohooo! We're running! We're fast! We don't even look at the offcourse on the discrimination! She keeps her bars up AND gets her feet solidly into the contact yellow zones! Life is good! Turns out that we're the 3rd fastest of all 77 dogs who ran that course, but neither of those 2 are in our exact group, so we're 1st again.
Life IS gooood.
DISSOLVE TO FULL HOUSE WALK-THROUGH
9:50 I have a lovely high-point plan but I have to hope that she's not knocking bars, because we need 3 successful jumps and my conquering-the-world plan has only 3 jumps in it.
CUT TO FULL HOUSE RUN
11:25. Well, ya KNOWWWWW I am tired of the brain rearranging the course that was safely in my mind BEFORE I went into the ring. Missed a flip and once again Tika wasted time doing an entire Aframe for no points. And I go off into the wrong direction once. SOOOOOO it's a Q but barely above average points, so another 3rd place. Stil, running well, doing weaves with no sign of soreness, turning beautifully. Happy dog. Happy handler.
11:40: The turkey panini (grilled sandwich) tastes reeeeeeeal gooood.
SUBLIMINAL SHOT: WHY TIKA WANTS THE ZIPPER ON HER CRATE TO BE LEFT PARTLY OPEN.
1:00 They're just about ready to walk the afternoon classes. Standard went way too long. Don't think we're finishing early today, and Tika is almost the last dog in the day's running order.
DISSOLVE TO COLORS WALKTHROUGH
1:30: This is one of those COlors courses where I don't really see the point--one option is simple and flowing and the other side isn't, and there's no difference in which obstacles they do. This should be easy-peasy...AND fast, since is't just basically a big loop with no contacts. IF Tika lets me lead out, and she's been antsy, lifting her hairy tummy off the ground while in a down-stay at the start line. Brat.
CUT TO COLORS RUN...
2:10:00 Tika stays! We go!
AND CUT IMMEDIATELY TO
2:10:13.31: Woooooooo hooooooooitissofasticantbelieveitsalreadyover! another Q and should be a fast time.
DISSOLVE TO RESULTS TABLE:
2:30 Indeed, 2nd fastest of all 77 dogs who ran the course at 13.31 seconds, and that faster one NOT in our group and really only .03 (!!!) seconds faster, so a 1st place. I always DID like the color blue.
DISSOLVE TO WILDCARD WALKTHROUGH. INT. OR MAYBE EXT. IN THE ARENA ANYWAY.
3:00 This is another one where, if I keep my head and do my crosses right, we should have a blazingly fast time. Really no handling challenges for us at all. It's a tough entry to the weaves, but NOT FOR MY TIKA WEAVIN' DOG!
DISSOLVE BRAIN, THEN DISSOLVE TO WILDCARD RUN
4:30 Remember about getting those crosses in? Forget briefly where I'm going and Tika veers in the wrong direction, and although I catch her in time to avoid an off-course, you know that's going to hurt us on time on a course like this with no contacts anywhere.
CUT TO RESULTS TABLE, SWEATY BODIES EVERYWHERE.
5:00 Sure nuff, we're only the 3rd fastest of all 72 dogs who did the same course, but this time we're a full half second slower. Positively CRAWLING! But again a first place and a Q, and I'll take it. We're done! 6 out of 8, four 1sts. Really I should NOT complain, and I don't.
7:00 The arena is packed up, my stuff is packed up, dogs have had all the running they want out in the field, and it's time to GOOOOO HOOOOOOOME!
SUBLIMINAL INT. SHOT: HOLLY RELOCATING UBERCART
9:15 At home! Yay. In the garage. Open Tika's crate... and she stands up stiffly, exits the crate gingerly and yelps. Oh crap crap crap crap crap!
CUT IMMEDIATELY TO BLACK. FADE OUT.