a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Yessirree I Have Agility Dogs

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yessirree I Have Agility Dogs

SUMMARY: Another fine weekend, all in all.

The drive back down to Carmel started the day nicely with entertainment from Mother Nature. The sunrise took various forms and colors and I captured only some of them.

It's interesting, driving through a sunny morning and yet being able to see that you're about to drive into a fog bank in the next low-lying area.

Then, suddenly, you're in the fog. And fog is seldom more entrancing than when it's wrapping around some of the distinctive Monterey trees.

Several of us volunteered to wear leis to be the "ambassadors" who could answer anyone's questions, whether Starters folks trying to understand Snooker or Members Of The Public with questions. I got one to match my tie-dye.

We started the day with Snooker with a deceptively devious course. I thought that I could easily get Tika through a six and two fives, but this course required precision handling every step of the way and not many of us were up to it; not a lot qualified, and considering that there were 4 reds, only maybe 3 or 4 out of 120 dogs got more than 50 points. We made it through 6 and 5--barely--and then Tika took a bonus red at the wrong time and we were out.

Boost I had figured on 3 sevens; acutally I liked the flow better than Tika's course, but it covered a lot more ground and I didn't believe that Tika had the speed for it, whereas Boost does. We in fact got through the three 7s in the opening very nicely, with just a couple of occurrences of "this jump?" dancing around, which cost us time. But then I managed to NOT handle the #2 in the closing the way I had walked it, got in Boost's way, and she knocked the bar, and we were done. We *might* have had enough time left to finish the closing after our opening bobbles, but it would've been close.

So no Snooker Qs again.

Tika qualified in Performance Grand Prix *again* and *again* took 2nd place, not the lovely 1st that would earn us a bye into round 2 at the regionals in september. Explain me this, that tika can continually win steeplechase against the same dogs that she can't beat in Grand Prix? Argh. I shouldn't be complaining about Qing OR about placing 2nd in GP, but still...

And Tika had a lovely Standard run, getting enough toes into the contact zones to convince the judge that they were legal, although I miscued something and she turned in completely the wrong direction, losing several seconds to get her back on track. Don't know whether the correct execution would have gotten us the win; she Qed and came in 2nd there, too (to the same dog who beat her in Grand Prix) by a big gap of 3 and a half seconds.

Boost's Grand Prix was SO close to being lovely, but an ominous thing happened--instead of doing the "refusal dance" at 2 jumps ("this one? this one? really?"), she did the dread Border Collie full-speed spin! Ack! Not a good sign; don't want her to start spinning--it's a terrible habit for the dog to get into. But it's a sign of not getting the right info fast enough. Still--it really was SO close to being lovely! And we got called for only 1 refusal, so it was SO close to being an actual Q!

Boost's Standard run was scheduled near the very end of the 120-or-so masters dogs, and that class was still getting going while *everything* else, including my score table job, finished and the courses cleared away and packed. I really didn't want to wait for an hour or more for Boost's run and have it be another mess or something that would reinforce those ugly spins.

But... well, I waited. And I'm so glad I did, because Boost ran PERFECTLY! Stayed at the start line, went over jumps in front of her, hit all her contacts, made her weave entry and stayed in to the end--oh, it was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, like a run with a fast dog like her SHOULD be!

I could tell in a couple of places that she slowed slightly, not showing a CONFIDENT drive forward, but still DID go forward, even responded correctly to TWO rear crosses AND a serpentine... I mean, really, it was beautiful, and I have no complaints whatsoever; it's quite a breakthrough for her, and I don't expect her to be as confident and driven through a difficult course (only 8 of 38 dogs in her group Qed) as some other dogs, so for her at this time it was a spot-on, flawless run.

I am still floating.

Furthermore, she was fast enough to place 3rd of those 38 dogs! She's never earned Top Ten points before, ever, and this weekend she did it in TWO classes (Gamblers yesterday and Standard today). Wooty woot!

Now, it's not like she was really super-fast--just fast enough. Her time was 39.96, only about 4 yards per second. The 1st place time was 38.73, which makes her look pretty good--until you realize that dogs like Sweep [Basic] had a time of 36-something (although with a contact called), and Boost's sister Gina had an absolutely drop-dead astounding time of 34-something (although slammed through two jump bars).

So we can just keep doing what we've been doing, I guess, and her confidence will build, and so will her speed, and then I can also start releasing her very quickly on her contacts (if I want to go for placements)--note that Gina has glorious full-out running contacts and Boost stops at the bottom of each one. That alone makes quite a difference.

On the way home, traffic came to almost a complete stop much sooner than it had yesterday evening. Grumble grumble.

Gave me a chance to roll down the window and admire strawberry fields forever.

After taking 20 minutes to go half a mile, I looked at the map and saw an alternate route that took me a few miles out of my way, but at least I drove at the speed limit the whole way. Back on the main highway 101, traffic was at only about half speed through Prunedale and beyond, but finally picked up to near speed limit.

Today, my 1 hr/15 minute morning drive turned into a 2-hour evening drive home. Gahhhh.

But here we are, I'm happy, dogs did quite well again.


  1. All-in-all, quite the stellar weekend. Have an ice cream on me! :-)

  2. Wooohoo! Congrats on a great weekend. Oh, and your flowers were purty... :)

  3. Thanks. Steph: On you? Erg, won't that be a bit sticky in all this heat?

  4. Nice job! Big congratulations. Those one in a million (or maybe, hundred) runs can feel good for a long, long time :) Like the strawberry fields forever too!

  5. Congrats on all of that! Sounds like a great trial site.