a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Sunday USDAA Report

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Sunday USDAA Report

SUMMARY: Tika is slow but collects more Qs and $5; Boost, well, not terrible, but no Qs.

Another nice day with good friends and lots of laughter at Manzanita Park, even though the "fog" was so heavy in the morning that it was really a drizzle.

It's 7:00 a.m. and I'm parked here at the trial site wondering whether it's going to stop.

I managed to not get too depressed over Boost's runs and Tika's flagging agility ability. I did realize, though, how draining it is to put all the effort I put into Boost's runs trying to do the right thing and still not Q, even when I'm feeling pretty good and trying to just enjoy the moment.

Doesn't she look good on paper, though? (Thanks Lisa P for the photos.)

I decided that I'm spending so much on entry fees and not Qing that I really need to just bite the bullet, pay for more pro videos of all of Boost's runs, and try to sit with our instructor to go over them. So again this weekend I paid for all of Boost's and some of Tika's. (Thanks 4-Legged Flix.)

Then I watched all the videos when I got home. And I thought, gee, most of that doesn't look half bad. Really, you can't Q with this dog? I also thought, gee, when I'm out on the field I'm running as fast as I can and I can barely breathe when I'm done (hands go up on my hips at the end of one run--that's not pique, that's me gasping for breath) but on the videos I look like I'm loping and running in quite a stilted manner.

I've put all 16 of them up on YouTube (10 Boost, 6 Tika) for your viewing pleasure, if you want to see a lot of runs that look pretty darned good until you realize that this dog has Qed only 3% of the well-over 100 Masters Jumpers that she's entered.

Like, here's her Saturday Jumpers where she ran past only one jump. Maybe I didn't call enough or use enough body language--video cuts me off right at the crucial moment. And rather than trying to fix it, since we already NQed, I just went ahead and sent her into the next tunnel. But otherwise looks good, dunnit? (Well, except for after the 3rd jump where I forgot where we were going for a minute.)

And today's Jumpers, which wasn't perfect (some bobbles other than the 2 knocked bars) although we successfully did manage *3*, count them, three! rear crosses-- but mostly looks pretty ok, dunnit?

But, really, in this Steeplechase Round 1--did I REALLY do anything so terribly wrong on the jump after the first Aframe or, again, on the next to the last jump to make her not take them? This is no baby dog; she's old enough to know better (but I know that she doesn't). (You might have to watch it on Youtube since it's so small here.)

Meanwhile, my subjective feeling that Tika is much slower in the weaves and in ground speed seems pretty objective in this Steeplechase Final Round video from today,  where you can see that she's really forcing it in the weaves, adding extra steps before jumps, and never really fully extending even when she's running fairly fast.

Not to mention in today's P3 Standard--which she Qed but just barely because it took her so long to go down on the table on top of other slownesses.

To see whether I was misremembering, I went back and looked at a couple of her videos from 5 years ago. Sure, we weren't perfect, but at least her default behavior is to go over jumps when they're right in front of her. And they were 26",  not a mere 22"! AND she always got her weave entries.
Earning her ADCH with a Snooker Super-Q,  February 2007:

Taking 1st place in Masters 26" Standard, April 2007:

ANYWAY again--

Today, Tika took 3rd in Steeplechase Round 2 (mostly because 2 other dogs Eed), earning 5 whole dollars, even though she knocked the first bar. I thought the bar was because I didn't warm her up properly, but I did warm her up before Grand Prix and she knocked the first bar there, too, so we just quickly left the ring.

Her Standard was OK, but (as shown in the video above) the table down was long long long and I'm not thrilled with my current solution of just repeating "Down" vehemently until she does, but as long as it works and she's Qing, I'll just keep doing that (and practicing fast/rewarded Downs outside the ring).  At her age, she's getting to where Human Mom says "Tika can do whatever she wants." Her Jumpers was nice enough to take 2nd place  of 9 dogs (largely again courtesy of several faster dogs E-ing) , but there were places on course where *I* noticed that she really hesitated--it's hardly visible in the video, but on the course I was hyper-aware of it. And that was it for her today--2 Qs out of 3 Qable runs, so 5 of 8 for the weekend, and I'll take that Qing percentage.

Boost did NOT want to go over one crucial jump in the Gamblers opening so we missed a possible near-high-in trial opening from wasted time. And she almost got the gamble--did the hard part, IMHO, but then came in to me and wouldn't move away again for 2 simple jumps in a row, sighhhh.

In Standard, she made absolutely sure that she Eed on Refusals--3 refusals equals an E and we got at least 4: Ran past a jump that maybe I didn't indicate well enough but it was pretty much in front of her; missed her weave entry (turning to the left--the direction that has always been her biggest challenge but it was her only miss all weekend), spun before a tunnel, and ran past the table. So I just found my easiest way out to the finish line and didn't bother with the last third of the course that included the dogwalk. Four refusals and a huge between-jump spin in only 2/3 of a course.

Jumpers (as shown above), not terrible but not a Q. Grand Prix, not terrible but not a Q.

SO, Tika gets older and slower, I apparently can't run, Boost keeps making the same mistakes over and over. A sad tale made happier only because I and my dogs are fairly healthy and because there are so many good people at agility trials who make my day in so many ways. Seems to me that everyone was in a good mood today (unlike that Sunday 2 weeks ago on the 2nd day of 105 temperatures... ).

So maybe I'll keep doing agility for a little while longer.

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