a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: USDAA SMART Day 1

Saturday, August 27, 2011


SUMMARY: The good, the bad, the inexplicable, and the--erm--Musings upon Top Ten.
Well, another day, another 12 runs--rackin' up that experience, I'm telling ya! Remained foggish and overcasty most of the day, which kept it cool and pleasant.

The Good

Boost had two amazing lovely clean runs today!
  • Standard: Well, she did come off the teeter without even going all the way to the end, but it was legal. I made her stop for a few seconds anyway, and we continued, and Qed. This wasn't one of those ugly Qs, either, where you're constantly recovering from this or that almost-error. Nope, a really solid run. 8 seconds slower than the winning dog, but I'll bet 4 of them were that Post Teetermatic Syndrome.
  • Steeplechase: I had resigned myself to a disaster, but Lo! It was not! Qed and even placed 6th of 32 22" dogs. Three seconds behind the winner, but there were two Aframes and I held her on both in her nice 2o/2o position and told her "Good dog!"
  • Bars: Knocked only 2 in 6 runs, which is pretty darned good for her. 
  • Start line-stay: Didn't break once in 6 runs, yeah!

Tika sometimes amazes me for a ten-and-a-half-yr-old:
  • Ran very fast, almost over the top with excitement, the first two runs of the day (while the fog was still in). Slowed down a bit when the sun came out, but picked up as it cooled off in the afternoon. So, who knows why she was so slow those couple of trials in june/july. Maybe she just can't run through the heat like she used to.
  • Standard: Had a perfectly nice  run, Qed, and placed 2nd, less than a second behind the winner.
  • Jumpers: Had a perfectly nice  run, Qed and placed 2nd, although I was late on two consecutive front crosses that slowed her down visibly, and we were only 0.13 seconds behind the first-place dog.
  • Steeplechase: Had a perfectly nice run, placing 3rd (just 0.6 behind the 2nd place dog) and Qing. 
  • Pairs Relay: Very fast, overran the teeter but didn't get called for jumping on the side, and with our partner's nice, clean run, Qed and placed 3rd, even with my long lead-out as the 2nd dog.
  • I don't believe she missed a contact all day, and it wasn't because she was slowing down to get them, so maybe the contact work is paying off a bit. Some were actually really nice running contacts (yes, no, we were not *practicing* running contacts).

  • Knees and hips haven't been this pain-free in I don't know HOW long. I don't know why the change. I am grateful. First time at a trial since I can remember in months or maybe a year or two when trotting, jogging, or running didn't make me alter my stride to try to ease the stress.  (That's not to say that I'm a super runner or didn't get tired, but I felt good out there.) Big win!

    The Bad

    •  Snooker. Knocked the first red, backjumped the second. What can I say? Off the course in about 10 seconds with 1 point.
    • Relay: Knocked a bar, ran past a jump. All in 11 obstacles. Bad way to start the day, but fortunately our [also] very fast partner was clean and so we eked out a Q even with those 10 fault points and my long lead-out as the 2nd dog.
    • Gamble: Well, good and bad: Had a really nice smooth opening. Knocked one bar that we took twice, so that's 2 points that we didn't get, but still was the 4th highest opening points of all 40 22" dogs. Even sent out to a couple of jumps, no refusals or runouts.  The gamble? I swung her around, sent her over the first jump, and she just looped back and looked at me. Even when I finally ran out into the gamble zone and put her on the teeter directly, she hopped off the middle of it.
    •  Jumpers: Gah. Don't want to talk about it. Good thing she's cute.

    The Inexplicable

    • Snooker: Well, good and bad again. The first 3 reds and follow-on obstacles were fast and smooth and working at a distance and just perfect, all the bars up. Red, jump-jump, red, Aframe, red, weaves, red, weaves... and in that second set of weaves, she popped out in the middle! I can't figure out why--I wasn't going to veer away or anything, and it was the same weaves she'd just done, in the same direction, with me on the same side. Not even popped at the end, which is her usual thing if she's going to pop. Then took 3 tries to get her back in, for which I was going to get no points anyway, and by then it was all over for a Super-Q and I may have let up a little and over-pulled her off a jump in the closing.
    • Gamblers: Perfect opening. Actually did everything that Boost did (this was an early run and she was running very fast, even thru the contacts), was in perfect position for the gamble, turned and lined up straight and went right onto the teeter and the rest was a piece of gambling cake--except that she jumped off the teeter's side and came straight over to me!  Of course I forgot my camera and there were no videographers there today, so I have no idea what that might have been. SOOOO atypical of Tika in a gamble.  Sigh.

    Day Summary

    Both dogs will be in Steeplechase Round 2 first thing tomorrow morning--that doesn't happen often.

    Can't complain about many very nice things that Boost did today, with Qs in Pairs, Standard, and Steeplechase--although, really, I wanted a Q in Jumpers and a Snooker Super-Q. :-( Trying not to be greedy, but 3 jumpers and 2 Super-Qs are all that continue to stand between us and our championship.

    Tika didn't win all day, but mostly got beaten by different dogs, so it's not like she's getting beaten up by anyone in particular. And it was great to see her really excited and running through her contacts in the morning.

    Musings Upon Top Ten Standings

    Through continuing inexplicable Snooker happenings with Tika, we remain unable to even buy Top Ten points and continue to not show up even on the Top 25 list.  So much for being #4 in the country last year.

    Some comparisons:
    Our points this year before todayOur points at this time last yearOur current placementPlacemt last yr at this timeEnded year at
    Gamblers41263rd11th46 pts/ 6th
    Jumpers33382nd4th63 pts/ 4th
    Snooker1130below 25th5th42 pts/ 4th
    Standard192713th12th48 pts/ 5th

    I'm not sure what it all means. I don't know why Tika seems to be racking up the 0- and 1-point Snooker runs this year. I don't believe that (mostly) I'm doing anything weird or stupid. In the last two years, it has taken 30-31 points to be in the Top Ten, and I'm only planning on 3 more USDAAs this year--if entries run about what they've been running, and even if we won all 3 (unlikely), we'd have maybe 15 more points and still be way out of the running. Funny.

    In Gamblers this year, so far we're doing much better, also for no apparent reason (oh, well, until today). Last two years, it has taken 30 or 37 pts to be in the top ten--I'm guessing we're probably safely in there for this year even if we don't get any more gambles, although that would be embarrassing.

    In Jumpers, it has taken fewer than 30 points to be in the Top Ten in the last 2 years, so when you add our current 33 to today's 3 more, I'm guessing that we're also probably safely in there as well.

    For Standard, funny that our points are very different from last year but our placement's about the same. It has taken 34-36 points in the last 2 years to be in the Top Ten, and we are still a long way away from that--although last year at this time the #10 dog had 28 points, and this year the #10 dog has only 20. So maybe the numbers required will be lower this year.