a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Saturday at Haute TRACS

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday at Haute TRACS

SUMMARY: 5 *more* runs for each dog, 4 Qs for Tika, and 2 for Boost.

What does Haute TRACS mean?

Haute Dawgs Agility Group is one dog club; TRACS (Two Rivers Agility Club of Sacramento) is another. They used to have April agility trials on separate, adjacent weekends. Back in 2005, they said, this is silly, we're in the same area (often at the same site) two weekends in a row, why don't we save ourselves a trip home and a teardown/set-up and just combine them? So they've been doing a 4-day event (one club does thurs/fri, the other does sat/sun) ever since.

But it's too much to manage, really, for many reasons, and this will be the last year. Then they're going back to separate weekends. Which is fine by me--four days of agility is wayyyy too much.

Saturday morning

The Gamble was almost a gimmee. I haven't looked at the Q percentage, but I'd guess 80%. And both dogs got it and Qed. I thought I had a decent opening, but muffed it completely with Tika (what an array of errors, and most handler-created), so once again we didn't even place, and I held Boost on all 5 contacts that we did to ensure that she's getting rewarded for sticking them, rather than trying to blast through and get more points.

The Standard I really liked the flow of for my dogs--thanks again, Pat Corl. Others thought it was gnarly (in a complicated way), but it was SUCH a doable Boost course, and both dogs ran it beautifully. Unfortunately, Tika didn't bother with the dogwalk down contact, and Boost knocked a bar, so no Qs. (To show you how gnarly it was, Tika still placed 3rd of 9 dogs without Qing.)

Saturday afternoon

Boost's Jumpers course was another mess--20 faults (I think 2 bars and 2 refusals), although somehow we avoided an off-course Elimination.

Tika's Jumpers didn't feel fast to me, and I wondered whether she was slowing down (I certainly was) but it was smooth--and to my surprise, 7 out of 11 dogs in her group Eliminated. We ended in 1st with a Q. So some nice Top Ten points there.


It was a twisty turny course with tons of pull-throughs and run-pasts required, front crosses or rear crosses every direction, multiple-part obstacles, and overlapping numbers (so part of 6 was also part of 5, part of 6 was also part of 7, and so on. I think most people spent most of the walk-through just trying to figure out the closing course, let alone figure out an opening strategy.

The course focused on complex handling rather than speed. Oh, sure--you had to be *very* fast to get all three sevens in the opening, and only a very few dogs managed it with only a second or so to spare. I think most people simply conceded the 51-point high possible score and went for some opening combo other than three sevens. I picked two sevens and a four because it flowed nicely. I was sure it wasn't going to be a super-Q plan with a 4 instead of a 5 or 6, but it proved to be a very good super-Q plan--

--except with Boost it was another dang Super-Q heartbreaker. In general, it was a Boost course because it required paying close attention to the handler, which she does to a fault. Mostly it helped us on this one, although she did the "this jump"? dance on TWO reds in the opening and also in the opening blew past the weave entry--no excuse for it, it was a very easy entry--and we had to go back for it. She did every complex handling thing I asked her to do AND kept her bars up, but we missed completing the course by about 2 seconds--so avoiding any ONE of those three bobbles would've given us a super-Q. Even with 43 22" dogs entered, dogs were Super-Qing with 44 points, and we ended with 41 instead of 48. Crap!

Tika nailed it, but by now my legs, hip, and knee were all giving me great grief. Muscles were weak and not responding well, I was tripping over my own feet, knee was giving way under me on some steps. I was late on several crosses, wasting time. Still, we completed it with only a couple of seconds to spare. We were two seconds slower than another dog with our same points, so we were a Super-Q and 2nd place.

But I was wiped out. With the next Steeplechase still to run.

Steeplechase and an experiment with alternative handlers

We had a break while the course was built, but one hip (NOT the one that has been paining me for months) and a blister had me limping during the walkthrough and the muscle fatigue was obvious. I could barely conceive of running a dog at all, let alone two dogs on what was a really wide-open course with aggressive front crosses required.

I briefly pondered scratching both dogs, but I had to stay anyway for (a) the Bay Team meeting and (b) a potlock dinner with friends, and besides, durnit, I paid $20 each to enter that class!

I asked our sometimes-pairs-partner, Killy's Human Dad, whether he'd run Boost (since Killy has had many of the same "this jump?" issues), with the observation that I had no idea whether she'd run with someone else. He took her off to try to play with her and get her to work with him, but she wanted her Human Mommie, dang babydog. I could see her in a sit-stay at the practice jump on the far side of the steeplechase field, and when he finally convinced her to move, she moved straight across the course towards me. Fortunately, no other dog was running at the time.

Maybe she'd have been better if I'd gone with them. Don't know. MUST have my dogs learn to work with other people. Anyway, we gave up on that idea.


Boost ran first. I did a lead-out pivot after a broad jump to a tunnel, which she handled very nicely, but then I needed to do an immediate second front cross after that between the tunnel and the weaves, and my legs didn't work, and my heel caught on the grass or my other foot or I don't know, and down I went onto my hip (the one that was already making me limp). I got slowly to my feet, discovered that I wasn't fatally damaged, and picked up the run where I left off. I missed a front cross that I really needed, she came to a complete stop at a jump on a rear cross (Jeez, wouldn't you think it would be easier to just TAKE it when you're moving full speed?), and as I had expected, ran past the last jump. Swung her around in two attempts to take it and finally did--

So we had no *recorded* errors, but a run time of twice the winning dog's time.

I must say, though, that she did two BEAUTIFUL sets of weaves, including one where I basically sent her ahead of me and peeled off to try to prevent the last-jump problem (she was still faster than I could be), and she stuck her Aframe on a rear cross where she couldn't see where I was going. AND kept her bars up AND stuck her start line.

Tika's run was not smooth. Poor dog crashed into me TWICE when I couldn't get the front crosses in that I needed. I felt so bad for her. I just couldn't physically do it, I was so tired. She amazed me after the first crash, because it pushed her past the right side of the weave entry, and she basically made a u-turn in about 18 inches of space and still made the entry! Such a good girl! We completed the course successfully only a few seconds behind the winning dog for a Q, so we could've competed the following day in Round 2 for money.

But, yeah, I was beat, no way I was sticking around. Besides, MUTT MVR was already packed up. Maybe with a rest overnight I could've run OK at 7:30 in the morning, and she usually does well in Round 2, BUT.

I was very glad to be home in my own bed.


Tika: 13 Qs towards her LAA-Gold out of 17 chances, two firsts, four 2nds, four 3rds. Qs in DAM and 3 individual DAM classes, Grand Prix, two Steeplechase, two gamblers, pairs relay, one Standard, one Jumpers, Super-Q in Snooker. (So didn't Q in Snooker, Standard, Jumpers, DAM snooker.)

Boost: 3 Qs (including DAM) out of 17. Mostly solid contacts, mostly solid start-line stays, never popped out of her weaves. And an UNbelievably good table-down where I backed up about 30 feet away from her during the count and she never lifted even a single elbow. W00t! Qs in DAM, gamblers, snooker.

Me: I have not been doing miles of hiking and walking that I had done the previous couple of years. Really paid for it this weekend in on-my-feet endurance. Plus I worked as Crew Chief instead of Score Table, so was on my feet virtually all day Thursday & Friday, except for very quick breaks. Must. Get. Moving. Again.

1 comment:

  1. Hoo boy, that sounds brutal what you had to deal with physically. I was almost wincing in pain reading about it :-(

    34 runs over three days, PLUS Crew Chief duties? I would be totally beat too. Well, glad there was some really super stuff from both dogs, even if one did out-Q the other a wee bit.

    Now, rest up, eh?