a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: We Coulda Been a Contenda

Monday, July 26, 2010

We Coulda Been a Contenda

SUMMARY: The successes and the almost-champion-of-the-universe-but-nots.

HEALTH: I remained symptom-free after about 8 p.m. Saturday night. Slept mostly OK until actual hunger pangs and hunger headache woke me middle of the night. A banana and a can of Diet Coke(R) with caffeine took care of those, respectively. In the morning, got up to the alarm and went to the trial without incident.

Early on, stuck to the bananas, pretzels, and 7-UP that seemed to have worked the best over the last couple of days; felt fine. At lunch, I headed to to the vendor fully intending to order plain rice and chicken (hey, works for dogs with upset tummies). BUT. Well. They had BLT on the menu. And that got my cravings moving, so I ordered one dry and on a whole-wheat pita. It was delicious, and I continued to feel just fine. So I guess I'm done with whatever it was. Whew!

DUST: I crated in the limited crating area in the arena, which we reserved for trial committee. I might never do that again--there was so much dust that I'm going to have to dismantle everything I own now that it's home and clean them individually to get rid of the grit. Horked up dust for half an hour after packing up. In the future, would rather walk the extra 40 feet and set up my canopy on the grass. Too bad; it was very convenient there.

Coulda been a contenda #1: I forgot that we (and many other CPE events) offer Perfect Weekend awards: If you Q in all available classes, you get a special ribbon. Tika Qed 8 out of 8 this weekend, but because I wasn't there for the first two classes Saturday, we didn't qualify for the special Perfect Weekend ribbon. Drat!

Coulda been a contenda #2: I'm not too ashamed to admit that I love CPE because of the opportunity it provides to bring home a lot of first place ribbons for us. Tika especially. But, as I noted earlier, we still have to be on top of our game for that to happen. Like yesterday, where we took two firsts but overhandling her on the weaves in Wildcard caused a miscommunication and we ended up in 2nd place.

Today, out of five classes, Tika and I managed to pull down only 2nds in the first four, losing to our usual top competitor Chaps in three of them (due to handling issues in two of them and one, just, well, chaps was .3 seconds faster) and, oh, the angst, losing to Boost in the other! (The only class today in which they competed directly.) Finally pulled it out in Jumpers with a really nice, smooth, fast, bobble-free run for our only 1st.

Tika's Sunday

So, class by class:

Full House: My favorite CPE class, 30 seconds worth of rabid point accumulation, in which I'm always striving to be the highest-scoring dog out of all entrants at the trial. We weren't. Only 2nd highest. That dang upstart Boost beat her by 3 points!

Standard: I don't remember any bobbles (didn't make any notes on this one). Pretty good run, as I recall, but Chaps usually has an advantage in classes with dogwalks and weaves, and indeed they beat us by .3 seconds.

Jackpot AKA Gamblers--Coulda been a contenda #3: Today's was a nonstandard gamble, which amounted to 30 seconds of rabid point accumulation followed by another 18 seconds of rabid point accumulation that required at least a 1, 3, and 5-pointer and then getting to the table to stop the clock within the alloted time to qualify. I had a course that in theory could've wiped everyone off the face of the planet with our stunning accumulation of points.

Before we ran, I watched superfast sheltie Cory, who has nice running contacts, tear the place up with 76 points. I thought that our course could get at least that much if everything went well, but Cory's flowed better. Problem with Cory's plan was that it involved doing three fast and accurate dogwalks, and Tika can't be counted on for that.

So I stuck with my original plan but mishandled in the opening in the 3 places for time-wasting bobbles in all 3 places that I knew would be tough, so then chickened out of the slightly more aggressive closing. Result: 74 points, which was still way more than anyone except Cory, but 3 less than I had hoped for.

However, Chaps ran after us, therefore knowing that they had to push the limits to beat us, and did, and did. (Really pushed the limits--just a half second under time, getting very close to NQing on time.) They had 77 points, for high in trial to that point. [Follow up with Boost's run, below.]

Colors: ALMOST beautiful in really high-style execution, until I ASSUMED she'd go *out* to an Aframe when I said "climb," but instead came past it while I tried to get fancy and race ahead for a super-fast finish. So had to go back and approach it again. Result: Chaps' handler said, "thanks, that reminded me that I have to do an "out" there," and so we were a whole 4 seconds behind Chaps, although still good for 2nd place.

Jumpers: Smooth and fast and a win.

Boost's Sunday

Unlike yesterday, had no problems with weaves that I can recall.

She continued yesterday's trend of not stopping 2o2o at the bottom of the Aframe, but I just tried to anticipate that and use it instead of trying to fix it. Great for speed and point accrual, like as in Full House and Jackpot. But very bad in terms of having a reliable Aframe. Will fix later. (Yeah, right. Danger Will Robinson!)

Qed 4 for 5 (3 1sts and a 2nd) and had several best-in-trial...except oh wait...maybe not quite...

Full House: Rabid point accumulation. When Boost and Tika are both on and I or they don't muck up, Boost is just faster in ground speed and has faster weaves and dogwalk. (Especially when she's not bothering to stop on the Aframe.) Boost had 50 points to Tika's 47 for a 1st--I believe highest out of all dogs competing. What a good girl!

Standard--The Long Down Count: Here's the danger of the unreliable Aframe: If I'm behind her (which I was), she comes off and *comes in to face me* rather than, oh, say, looking for the next obstacle to do. So now she's in my way and I can't get to the correct handling position. I said "down," she downed, I took a step, she jumped up in front of me. "Down," step, jump up. "Down," step, jump up. "Down," step, jump up, "Down," step, sort of stay halfway down enough for me to cautiously get around her. Yeah, she has a fabulous down except when I really need it. (Have been here before.)

SOOO her time was 12 (!) seconds slower than Tika's, but she was in a different group and that was good enough for another 1st place and Q.

Jackpot/Gamblers--Coulda been a contenda #whatever: [Refer back to Tika's description.] So: I stole Cory's plan because it was smoother than my original plan and Boost can, in fact, handle three fast, accurate dogwalks. And we ROCKED! Oh, man, she was fast, she loved the course, she handled beautifully, everything was perfect (well, except for leaving the Aframes early, repeat "good for speed & point accrual"), I knew that we could be well past everyone else's totals at the entire trial and all we had to do for the Q and the full bonus points to wrap it up was to go over one jump on our way to the table to stop the clock. Aaaaaaaaaaaand she knocked the bar.

So I had to pull her away from the table to the jump beyond it--iffy now as to whether we'd make time, but still had a chance. Aaaaaaand she did the "what jump? this jump? This one? This jump?" crap, and THEN knocked the bar. I knew we wouldn't Q at that point, but we still needed a jump for the full bonus points, so we went beyond that to the last remaining jump in the vicinity, where she repeated the "what jump? this jump?" dance and finally, with me standing there as calmly as I could and just saying "hup!" she finally turned around, took a good look at it, and went over.

All of that--the speed and the jump drama--entertained the sympathetic crowd mightily. We did in fact end up with a trial high 79 (yowza) points, but no Q. Doh.

Colors--Coulda been a... you know...: A really, really nice run, except that she came off the Aframe early so I couldn't get a front cross in that I needed for a smooth finish and we had a spin and then a turn the wrong way on the two following jumps. However, she still pulled out the 2nd-fastest time of all dogs who ran the course (Chaps was fastest), 17.28, for a 1st and a Q; only 2 other dogs besides chaps and Boost even broke 20 seconds. Without the bobbles, I'm sure she'd have been fastest. But, in her specific group, good for a 1st and a Q.

Jumpers--Coulda been... A really lovely, amazingly smooth run, even better than Tika's, which is saying something. She was almost 2 seconds faster than Tika, in fact, and was indeed the fastest of all dogs on that course--but naturally, sighhh, had a bar down. At her level in CPE, that was still a Q, but not a 1st place.


Home, no photos (didn't want to leave my camera in that dusty environment so it stayed in the car), pile of ribbons, back to eating comfortably; and now back to our regularly scheduled life.


  1. Wow! What a weekend,and you were sick too! Amazing. Glad you're feeling better.

  2. SO glad to hear that you've given up competing in the Aztec Quickstep!

  3. Thanks! If I wasn't already sympathetic enough to your chemo plight from past experience, this was certainly a good reminder!

  4. Good to hear you're feeling better. That's pretty hardcore going for the half day. Sounds like a good weekend anyway.

  5. It sounds like a good time was had by all. 8/8 for Tika -- yowzers! And so much good stuff from both dogs.