a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Agility: The Sport of Manic Depression

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Agility: The Sport of Manic Depression

SUMMARY: In which Steeplechases are won, obscenities are spoken, miracles happen, more miracles are so close to happening that when they don't it's a like a sucker punch to the gut while simultaneously being thrilled, and a bunch of Q ribbons come home.

Short list:
  • Tika Qed in 3 out of 4 classes; the knocked bar in Standard wasn't her fault as I chickedn out of a front cross at the last minute and did something really weird that messed her up. She also won Steeplechase Round 2.
  • Boost Qed in 2 out of 4 classes, including a long-awaited Jumpers, our 4th!

Longer list:

First run of the day, Steeplechase Round 2:
  • Tika ran it adequately and cleanly, and we won, bringing home a whole $17, which still doesn't quite pay for entering it in the first place. We credit the win to not having to compete against any of the faster dogs-- 3 out of 7 in Round 1 went off course, one scratched; and in round 2 the winner of round 1 (who was a blazing 10 seconds faster than us) also scratched and the only other dog left knocked a bar. At 40.61 and 41.32 seconds, these were the slowest 2 clean steeplechase rounds that Tika has ever run.
  • Boost ran past a jump, then another jump, then near the end with "never give up" running through my head, ran past the same jump 3 times without taking it as I tried mightily to get her over it, and I walked her off the ring, put her away, and then had a cursing fit about taking #*@& bars in front of you. (I tried to have that zen attitude and really I almost never swear, but after a while this just gets to me.) Also she self-released from the Aframe and turned to face me, so I had to down her just to get past her; did that despite our home practice last night. My kind friends sat me at the score table and made me get busy.
Second run, Grand Prix:
  • Tika ran it adequately but not quickly; I forgot where I was going once and put in an extra front cross and then had to pull her off the wrong jump, then she turned back to me before the very last jump because now I was behind. She Qed but only 5th of 8 dogs. A full 12 seconds behind the winning dog and by far the slowest yards per second (33.4) of any of her Grand Prix Qs ever, most of which have been over 4 yps.
  • Boost: Well, we really need GP Qs for possible future titles, but I also really wanted to fix our contact issues. So I vowed that, if she self-released off any contact, I'd take her out of the ring. Lo, she did every one perfectly! She also ran past 2 jumps, missed her weave entry, and went off course (last one all my fault), but I was able to count it as a success because of the contacts.
Third run, Standard:
  • Tika ran it adequately but not quickly; aforementioned bar on my bobbled front cross. That course ate up dogs: only 7 of 55 Masters dogs Qed and only 7 of 28 performance dogs. Tika came in 4th on the strength of having "only" 5 faults, but still 10 full seconds behind the winning dog.
  • Boost: Got the Aframe and Dogwalk contacts nicely, ran past a couple of jumps, then came off the side of the teeter completely without even trying to go all the way to the end, so I picked her up and carried her calmly off the field. Too bad, so sad, don't get to keep playing.
 Fourth run, Jumpers:
  • Tika ran it adequately but not quickly. Didn't check the results so not sure how the times or placements ended up. (Will fill in when the results are posted online.)
  • Boost: I could see she was going to refuse a jump I was trying to rear cross, so I gave up and ran straight past it, and fortunately she decided to take it after all. That left us in the proverbial left field needing to go back in the opposite direction, so I had to make her "down" to realign myself and then we continued, but since I was now behind where I needed to be, she turned the wrong way after another jump, but we held it together and, OMG, a miracle happened and we were at the end with ALL the bars up and NO FAULTS! Our 4th-ever Jumpers Q! Not pretty, but I'll take it! Happiness reigned!
Fifth run, Snooker:
  • Tika: At this point in her career, I'm just looking for Qs, so I picked a pretty easy, flowing, 5-5-5 opening and she executed it and the rest of it, yes, adequately but not super-fast. So a Q and actually a 3rd place out of 7.
  • Boost: I've been begging the dog gods for snookers where we could get high points without involving jumps and where the last obstacle also doesn't contain a jump, and this one had weave poles as #7. It required that we go between and around obstacles at several stages, but mostly felt like it would flow  nicely. Not many people even tried for three 7s in the opening, but I thought it would be our kind of course and was a better option than either 6 (which had a jump) or 5 (which had a jump). Also required that she keep her bars up and make 4 perfect sets of weaves from odd angles.  My estimate said that we had a lot of time and could afford some bobbles, but much to my surprise, like a well-oiled machine she did the first 1, came ALL the way across the field to where I'd led out, made the weaves perfectly, did the 2nd 1, did the weaves perfectly again, threadled between two obstacles to the 3rd 1 and threadled back to th get the 3rd weaves perfectly, avoided the off-course potential going into the closing and both she and I were in exactly the right places and we went through 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, and all that was left was the weaves, and they were right in front of her and my heart soared because this time I knew we had the Super-Q!  ... And she entered at pole #2.  AuuuuuughhhhH! This hurts so much more than just crapping out early. So it was  a Q but way below a Super-Q. Wahhhh! I suppose it was too much to ask to get both a Jumpers Q and a Super-Q on the same weekend, but we were SOOO CLOSE! I so wanted to take back that one moment and, I dunno, work the entry a little harder, give her an "easy" command, I dunno I dunno I dunno. Sigh again.

    But she really did run beautifully all the way through the rest of it and it was hard to be truly annoyed. Wish we could click like that more often.

In short, in one day with Boost I went from uncontrollable frustration, to calm acceptance of the issues and managing the failures on course, to exhilaration after the Jumpers Q, to more exhilaration being 2 seconds worth of weaves from a Super-Q to that aforementioned sucker-punch to the gut feeling, then back to joy at how well she had done the course overall.

And Tika--well, when I got the frisbee out, no sign of tiredness or slowness or disinterest. So there must be something about the agility itself that she's not liking or that's bothering her. An unfinished story.

1 comment:

  1. glad to see the report - and overall that you are feeling ok about things - so so hard to watch our friends age ... hang in there