a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Faustian Bargains

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Faustian Bargains

SUMMARY: Sunday USDAA in Monterey.

Today's first run: Tika in Standard. I send her to the chute and move quickly for a front cross--and there she is right next to me, not in the chute where she's supposed to be. I laugh because she has hardly ever done this, try hard not to be disappointed. She's running fairly well, but slow in places still, so we just run out of the ring so I don't overtax her on an NQing course.

Today's second run: Boost in Standard. A refusal on a jump right in front of her AND a bar down, and really it was such a nice course for us, I thought.

Today's third run: Tika in Gamblers. The gamble is almost a gimmee for my dogs. Not sure how many get it, but it's got to be well over half the dogs. Tika has a nice opening, although she's kind of trotting through tunnels again and although the last 5-pointer that I was sure I heard the judge call wasn't on the scribe sheet. Not that it mattered, because I sent her in the gamble over a jump to a tunnel, very simple... but, she abruptly turned back to me at the tunnel entrance--something else she never does--sees me still standing there in position, spins right back around and completes the gamble perfectly, but because of the refusal it's an NQ. I'm bummed. Don't know why she did that.

Today's fourth run: Boost in Gamblers. A gorgeous opening until the teeter, where I am moving away laterally and she jumps off the middle. I put her back on and she stays on but only past the pivot and pivots to 2o/2o on the side towards me without ever actually getting into the yellow down contact. I put her back on, despite the fact that our whistle has blown, and insist that she go to the end and do a proper teeter. Since she normally has a lovely, lovely teeter and this isn't like her but I don't want her to think it's OK. Then we go do a perfect gamble but of course way over time.

Today's fifth run: Tika's Snooker. I am kinda desperate to get some top ten points in snooker so that we can show up on the Top 25 chart, at least. Four reds are optional, but the closing is so fast that I know I'll need to do 4 reds for superQing/placing potential. But I find a nice fast course with two 5s and two 6s (the #7 is 2 sets of weaves, and with tika being slower and boost missing weave entries, I avoid them in the opening). It is *possible* that we can do well with that course, although 22" performance is tough! I lead out, call her over the first jump, send her into the first tunnel--and she doesn't come out. I call her. Nothing. The judge goes over and looks in. I walk over and look in. Tika pops her head back out of the same end she went in, looking I think a little puzzled.

Damn tunnels today with Tika! We've now spent so much time on that that there's no way I have time for 4 reds in the opening, and then I just blow a simple move on #4 in the closing and we don't even Q.

It's at this point that I'm feeling sick to my stomach. Seems like every weird thing is happening. It's as though the agility gods have heard my whining and have decided to show me how bad it can get with just really stupid stuff. I really am trying to suppress the overwhelming urge to scratch from the rest of the day and go home. If we weren't short-handed at the score table and I was getting comped for being the table czar, I might have done it right then and there.

This was the one thing I hated about speech & debate in high school and college--I loved it, loved the competition, but felt sick to my stomach so often, and sometimes even tossed my cookies over it. Almost never feel that way about agility. But today I did.

Today's sixth run: Boost's Snooker. Using same plan as for Tika. Because the time is generous, I'm pretty sure that my course will not be in Super-Q range with only 5s and 6s in the opening because other people will be doing some 7s. This is our 66th attempt at Master's Snooker, and we don't have a Super-Q yet, and I expect this to be no different. It's doable *if* I can run run run (and I did run better today than yesterday, another frustrating thing that seems to contradict everything going wrong) AND if she keeps her bars up, which she has failed to do on 45 previous occasions. And then there are the TWO sets of weaves at #7 in the closing, and with her dismal weave entries yesterday, what are the odds?

We're off and running, and, OMG, short story, she gets through AN ENTIRE snooker course with NO refusals (>24 previously), NO runouts (>8 previously), NO knocked bars (>45 previously), NO missed weave entries (>11 previously), NO off courses (8 previously), and NO really stupid handler errors (7 previously, including yesterday). It's the first good thing to happen all day, but it's a very good thing and I start to feel better, although it's a pity that such a nice run has pretty much no chance of being a Super-Q. It's the only masters snooker course we've ever completed successfully.

An hour or two after the class is over, I wander by to see how much we missed the Super-Qs by.

And, well--we are #2 of 37 dogs! 2nd place! And that's very definitively a Super-Q! A real super-Q! OMG OMG OMG. I'm telling everyone and bursting into tears every time.

The excitement of that gets me through most of what's left of the day, except here's where I have this weird feeling:

Did I ever say, or even THINK, "I'd give anything to have Boost earn a Super-Q"? Like, even have Tika fail to Q, blow completely simple gambles, have my tunnel-loving dogs pull off very simple tunnels--more than one, my perfect-teeter dog screw up the teeter twice only to taunt me with a perfect gamble that doesn't count, have Tika get slower and weirder, and all the rest? Did I ever say that? Because if I did, I'm sorry, and I'll try never to say it again. Because apparently I didn't know who was listening.

Anyway, deals with the devil aside-- the rest of the day goes like this:

Tika Qs in Grand Prix but is slow, slow, slow--still places 3rd but a full 7 seconds behind the winner.

Boost--the Grand Prix is another course that is SO DOABLE, but once again she knocks a bar and turns back to me at a perfectly obvious jump right in front of her, honestly, if she would just keep going in a straight line, she'd have to go over it!

Tika Qs in Relay with no weird mishaps and she and her partner actually place 2nd, so that's nice.

And our relay half is just about the simplest half I've ever seen; it is MADE for me & Tika & Boost. Simple simple simple. And within those 9 obstacles, boost STILL manages to achieve a knocked bar, a refusal, and a runout. AuggghhhH! Her partner then Eed, but it might have been in trying to make up for our 15 faults, which was really impossible to do.

Tika Qs in Jumpers
, so we're ending the day better than we started, but a really wide turn where I forgot a front cross drops us to 3. Still slow in the tunnels but the jumping looks pretty nice, thank goodness.

Boost's Jumpers--a really nice flowing course that I really haul butt through to get in all the important front crosses, and we have NO refusals and NO runouts and a really fast time--but, sigh, 2 bars down, just to taunt me that on a smooth run where I'm where I need to be, it still all goes to pieces.

Summary of weekend

In case you weren't taking notes.
Tika--no wins all weekend, but overall not quite as bad as it felt at times:
  • Sat Gamblers, Q, 2nd of 11
  • Sat Jumpers, E
  • Sat Steeplechse, Q, 5th of 8
  • Sat Steeplechase Rd 2, 3rd of 4
  • Sat Snooker, Q, 3rd of 12
  • Sat Standard, Q, 2nd of 8
  • Sun Standard, E
  • Sun Gamblers, NQ, 5th of 8 (?)
  • Sun Snooker, NQ, 7th of 10
  • Sun Relay, Q, 2nd of 7
  • Sun Jumps, Q, 3rd of 10
  • Sun Grand Prix, Q, 3rd of 6
  • Sat Gamblers, NQ, 18th of 35
  • Sat Jumpers, E
  • Sat Steeplechse, Q, 19th of 42
  • Sat Steeplechase Rd 2, 15th of 19
  • Sat Snooker, NQ, 32nd of 37
  • Sat Standard, E
  • Sun Standard, NQ, 21st of 33
  • Sun Gamblers, NQ, (didn't note placement)
  • Sun Snooker, Super-Q! 2nd of 36
  • Sun Relay, E
  • Sun Jumps, NQ, (didn't note placement)
  • Sun Grand Prix, NQ, 15th of 34


  1. I had a friend whose dogs suddenly began refusing tunnels and it was eye trouble. I'd defiantly get poor Tika's eyes checked.

    Congrats on Bost's super Q!

  2. Yeah, the eyes is one of the things I've been wondering about. This week will set up vet appt & chir appt to get started with.