Monday, January 14, 2013

CPA Trial Results

Q wise, we didn't have a great weekend.  It felt a little frustrating because the courses were hard, but I walked them and was pretty confident in most of my plans.  But, I didn't execute them correctly so we messed up here and there.

Many people said that the judges' courses were very technical, and that this judge is much more old school.  I don't think I know enough about agility (and where it's been) to comment on his style, but I do know that these courses were significantly tougher than what we've seen in our last few trials.  Not a complaint--we should be prepared for challenges like this!

I'm not  posting all the videos or course maps (do you really need to see the dogs not get through the opening in Snooker?), but I'll try to comment on the ones that I think are relevant.

Masters Gamblers:
Now, I believe that my attitude has changed quite a bit when it comes to gamblers.  But, I also know my dogs' limitations.  Looking at this gamble, I knew it wasn't likely for either pup.  Not only does the dog have to turn away from you, but then there is a discrimination, and a distance component!  I really wanted to show this course map because I think it's one of the hardest gambles I've ever seen.
No videos, because it's boring, but Lexi took 1 and 2 then went to the far tunnel beyond jump 2 (I put her in obstacle focus and gave a lot of forward/push cues), so I can't blame her for that!  Bentley turned the wrong way after jump 2 and came back to me.

 Masters Standard:
 Bentley:  I won't be posting Bentley's video here, because my husband picked him up and took him out.  I've posted about it before that his a-frame has been deteriorating in trials, so we've been working extra hard in class and in practice to reward his criteria.  But, he was so excited that he blew the dogwalk (just jumped off really high), so Jonathan took him out.  It's really tough because he ONLY jumps his contacts in a trial.  Clearly, it's a case of him being ringwise.  So I feel like we have to do a couple things.  One, mark it in a trial.  Whether that means pulling him or not, I'm not sure yet.  Two, try our very best to recreate it in practice so we can correct him, but I'm not sure how to do that yet either!  Any tips from my blogger friends?

Lexi:  After the beginning, I was really pleased with this run.  I was a bit disappointed, because we've been working on her recall to heels (foundation) and both times I tried it this weekend she dropped the bar.  The one thing that I will say is that in this video I can see her slow down and collect, she just doesn't do it enough.  I also feel like I should have moved out of her way faster, and I didn't.  I stopped and marked the dropped bar, and that's why she took the off course, but I'm not worried about that.  Really loved her RC to the weaves, and FC to the dogwalk.  What a good girl!

Masters Pairs Q:
(Bentley not entered) Lexi:  Definitely the easiest course, and Lexi's best run of the weekend.  We were partnered with a former USA World Team member (no pressure!) but ended up running clean.  Was really, really pleased with her turn to the tunnel.  Lexi & Mickle's time was the second fastest of all the dogs there! (And there were some very speedy dogs there!)  This was her 5th Masters Pairs Q, and therefore her Relay Master title!

Grand Prix:
Bentley:  This was an ugly one.  He missed the weave entry (though TONS of dogs did) and incurred 2 refusals there (Jonathan didn't give him enough space the second approach).  Then he missed his a-frame contact.  But, good news is that he got the dogwalk contact!  So that was a small celebration.  Then he got a refusal at the tunnel (totally Jonathan's fault for running away before Bentley was fully committed) so that was an E (3 refusals).  The crazy thing is that the course was tough, but didn't seem that bad and it really got a lot of good dogs.

Lexi:  Didn't really want to share this video, but there were some good things, plus I need to learn from my mistakes so I'm posting it anyway!  Bad start when my FC to the weaves was late.  But, I'm not sure why this judge called a refusal when Lexi jumped over my leg.  Didn't matter because we followed that with a refusal at the weaves, but that was perplexing to me.  Then we got off the dogwalk and I thought I set up the serpentine nicely, but clearly not.  I left WAY too soon when I should have stood my ground.  Darn--that would have been great practice!  I really want to set that up and give it another shot.  Really nice RC at the end, though!

Masters Gamblers:
Bentley:  This course was the heartbreaker.  I looked at the gamble and thought "Bentley can do this!"  If I could get him in obstacle focus into the tunnel, he would definitely stay straight through that line of jumps.  Well, I'm not going to post the video, but for some reason he pulled off the tunnel when I sent him (refusal = NQ), and then the judge whistled right when he came out of the tunnel and he stopped, then ran right to me.

Lexi: Kind of an ugly run.  My opening plan was a bit odd because I thought she might have been spooked by the teeter in her previous gamblers run so I wanted to practice it.  That made the opening a little odd, then she slipped getting into the weaves on the way back.  I let her finish because she tried really hard to hang onto them, just slipped in the dirt.  Then I didn't line her up properly (bad mom) and she took a nasty tumble on the dogwalk.  I was so worried!  She seemed fine, so I continued.  (Don't worry, she got lasered right away and I put her Back on Track coat on right after this).  I didn't think she'd have enough points, but I thought if I could send her to the tunnel from far enough away, and get down stream that she might take the straight line of jumps, and it worked!  Somehow she had enough points, and she Qd!

Masters Standard:
(Bentley not entered) Lexi: Another "almost" run that was my fault.  Again, I was really pleased with this run because there were some great moments!  Just one mistake by me.  Lexi came off the a-frame earlier than I anticipated (she pushed me ALL weekend), and I wasn't in position to cue the front cross, so since I was behind I kind of panicked and rushed it, and called her off.  Good girl to her, though, because she listened and turned when told!  Note the third crappy front cross at the weave poles by me.  Seriously need to work on that!  So though it was annoying to not Q, knowing that we were really close makes me feel a bit better.  Still working through that timing component!

Masters Jumpers:
We stuck around for several hours waiting for this run, and for the Snooker run (no video or course map of Snooker--Jonathan messed those up!) and I was really bummed when neither dog did that well.  I think we were all tired and a bit cranky at this point.  Plus I think the course was really tricky!  We didn't end up finishing until 5pm, and had an 8.5 hour drive home!

Bentley:  Jonathan opted for the rear cross at jump 6, and just executed too soon.  It's hard because Bentley commits really late, and he pulled off the jump.  But good for him for keeping going since Bentley didn't make a mistake. After the mistake, you can tell that Jonathan's handling changes.  He's moving faster and leaving Bentley to do some of the work.  I wish he did that more often.  The end was really nice!

Lexi:  I knew this course would be really hard with Lexi, and really liked how she pulled through in a lot of the tough spots.  LOVED her turn at jump 6 as well as the way she got into the tunnel.  I struggled with how to handle the tunnel exit, and was afraid that she'd run into me if I picked her up on my right, so I opted for the RC.  Mistake.  She shot out and since I gave her no direction, took an off course.  I also thought about handling on the other side of the tunnel (like Jonathan did), but with Lexi's penchant for rocketing out of tunnels, I thought she would just grab one of the jumps she saw.  But then things went downhill.  Yes, I cued the FC late after 14, but I'm not sure why she went so far beyond me and then kept going.  I think she can tell that I quit, because then she came back and ran behind me.  But again, this was a really, really tough course for us and there was some really nice stuff in here!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Heat Wave

The snow is almost all melted, and everything is grey & and brown.

I much prefer the snow!

This weekend it's supposed to be very warm, and we're headed south where it's supposed to be around 70 degrees!

In honor of that, here's a short video of Lexi in the snow (Bentley was already too cold and came inside at this point!) and some more photos.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

I know, I'm a little late, but hey, at least it's still the first week of 2013!

First, what did we learn and accomplish in 2012?

Well, I learned how to deal with injury when Bentley sustained a muscle injury and Lexi's luxating patellas were diagnosed.  I learned how to deal with frustration when both dogs were qualified and had byes in GP to Regionals and we had to pull out.  I learned just how much I love this sport, but even more so, how much I love my dogs and how important their companionship is to me when I thought Lexi may never be able to compete again.


 Bentley learned how to work independently (still working through those contacts, though!), and has shown me that he can get a Gamble, it just takes a little patience, and getting him in the right mentality.  He taught me how much fun this sport can be (he's been teaching me that for years!) and title-wise, he has shown me just how far we can go.  When I first started this sport titles meant nothing.  And then I learned about then, and an ADCH seemed so amazing and out of reach.  And now here we stand, 2 Qs away.

When it comes to titles, Bentley earned the following (in 8 trials): Standard Agility Master (SAM), Relay Master (RM), Tournament Master (TM), and his Master Agility Dog (MAD).

Lexi is still teaching me patience--mostly with myself.  This little dog makes me be a better handler becasue I don't have time to make any mistakes.  I've never had to work on me much before, and now I know I'm the half of our team that is holding us back.  But more importantly, Lexi is also teaching me that every day is to be cherished, and that every day is a gift.  She wakes up every morning like it's the best day of her life, and it's infectious.  I've learned this year to appreciate the good in every run (not to say I don't have my moments of negativity), but Lexi is happy no matter what happens.  And there was a time I didn't know if we'd ever get to play again, so I try to enjoy every moment I'm out there with her.

When it comes to titles, Lexi earned the following (in 9 trials):  Advanced Standard Agility (ASA), Advanced Gamblers (AG), Advanced Snooker (AS), Advanced Relay (AR), and Advanced Agility Dog (AAD).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tournament Trial Pt. II

Grand Prix:
One thing I can say about this trial is that Lexi didn't miss a single weave entry!  I think it was a combination of the entries being a bit easier, Lexi being a bit more careful, and me setting her up for success.

I was a bit worried in this run about getting her from 3 to 4 without her taking the a-frame (as she is more likely to push out to get the "easier" thing), but a bit of a hesitation from me and I think I said her name, and she was good to go.

Jonathan gave me a hard time because towards the end of the day I started bailing on all my planned front crosses.  This run was no exception.  I had planned a front on the other side of 4 (the tunnel) but worried I wouldn't make it (and was tired I guess) and rear crossed on the flat after the double.  It worked out, though I'm lucky Lexi didn't drop the bar since I gave her the information a bit late.  And then we had the same issue out of the chute.  I guess I need to start giving her the information as she goes in, because it's too late even if I show her as soon as she comes out.  We're lucky we weren't close enough to jump 14 to get called for a refusal.

Even with that, we came in first place and earned a bye to regionals!

Bentley really made me laugh with his 2o2o on the dogwalk in this video.  So silly!  Obviously it's still a work in progress, but he is definitely trying to understand what we want.  Also, poor guy had to jump over Jonathan's feet when he had a really late front cross to the a-frame.  Lucky he still took the obstacle!

It did make me feel a bit better that Bentley almost went around Jonathan at the chute, too.  Must be a tough spot that if you don't cue it soon enough, they don't understand the turn.  Definitely something for us both to work on.  I wonder if in a blind obstacle like that if we need to cue a front cross before the dog enters...will have to think on that one.  Seems like the answer is yes.

Anyways, the end of Bentley run was great, and he ended up with a Q and second place!

I pulled her off of the tunnel in the corner like a bad handler.  I think this is the 2nd or 3rd time I've done that in the past couple trials.  I keep not trusting that she will take the correct end--and she always is planning on it!  I really need to work on this because it's actually one of Lexi's strengths and I don't want to give her a complex :) 
Looking at the course map I wanted to put a front cross in after 10.  But once again, I bailed (it was 10pm!) and put in a rear to the a-frame.  It ended up working really well, but I did feel like I wasted time/yardage.

Heading towards the weaves I knew I would have to show drastic lateral motion (vs. forward) because as I walked it, I realized that cuing the opposite end of the tunnel and the weave poles looks really similar to Lexi.  I didn't give her enough motion towards the weaves, but was able to call her off the tunnel.

Q and 2nd place!  We won $20!

Naughty a-frame contact for Bentley.  As usual, his contacts deteriorate as the trial goes on.  But again, we're fully aware that it's our fault.  And then you can see our little gambling dog deciding to take it upon himself to go out and get the far end of the tunnel.  Oops!  Again, Jonathan was able to call him off, get him into the weaves, and end clean for a Q and 1st place!  He won $35!

So to sum up the weekend, the dogs were first and second in all three events, and now they're 2/3 qualified for Nationals!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DAM Team (Tournament Trial Pt. I)

My dogs are awesome. We attended a 1-day Tournament only trial put on by our club on the 28th. I was a bit worried about it because we knew it was going to be a very long day (our club needs to stop kidding itself—it draws a lot of entries!) And in USDAA, there are no limits.

We arrived at 6:30 am (had to get up at 4:30!), and were there until 11 pm, then had to drive home. There were around 700 runs that day, yikes! Jonathan and I acted as assistant trial secretaries for the show (only one other person in the club knows how to score). So when we weren’t running, we were working. All day!

But, it was all worth is because our dogs were stellar!

I should mention that this certainly puts things in perspective, because I think Lexi and I made at least 1 mistake on every run, but because you can make a mistake in Team and still Q, I feel really awesome about the whole day. Usually one mistake keeps you from Qing, and I feel crummy about the day. Stupid Qs. Ruins your perspective for sure!

Before I get to the videos, I have to thank Diana (and Java) who were kind enough to share their Julius K9 harness with us. Lexi didn’t seem to mind it, and I really prefer it to the slip leash we’ve been using (the dogs struggle when we try to pull it off since it gets caught in their fur). I’ve ordered personalized stickers for the side, but you will have to stay tuned for that!

Team Standard:

The beginning was lovely. I got a nice turn to the a-frame, but I will say that I thought her going behind me after the double was entirely her fault. My arm is up as soon as she exits the chute, I’m saying her name and looking at her. Naughty girl! Just something we need to work on. I didn’t want to decelerate as she went into the chute because I was afraid I wouldn’t beat her out to cue the double. Beautiful teeter on this run. I wish you could see the next part because it was really tough and Lexi was great. First, her (my?) nemesis, a send at 14, then she had to converge and push out to 16. No problem! She did break her dogwalk a touch early (you can hear me say “Ohhhh! You cheater!” but that’s okay.

I think I’ve said this before—my husband doesn’t read my blog so I can give him a really hard time He is not running! He is slowly jogging! Bentley actually beats him out of the weave poles. Jonathan needs to encourage and hustle, not jog indifferently! Also, he is doing the airplane arms here. We’ve been giving him a hard time about it. Notice that his arms are up and waving around almost the whole run. Bentley, on the other hand, did great! Definitely his best dogwalk contact in a long time. Good boy!

Team Snooker:
Snooker was next, and I was panicking. I’ve never run Masters Snooker, and I’ve never run Lexi in Snooker. The combination had me totally worried! Jonathan said he’d help me with a plan, but then he made me make my own. It worked out, but I was really worried about it.

This course ate up a lot of really experienced handlers, and I was really proud of how it went. Was it the smoothest? Nope! But it wasn’t half bad! I was one of the few people that started where I did, and my plan worked out really well. Lexi had one of the highest scores of all the dogs there. Specifically, I was particularly proud of her serpentine to the weaves and out (please, ignore my silly dancing “please don’t take this jump” antics on the way to the tunnel!) A little bummed that she popped the weaves (guess it was my rear cross?) but who cares, the rest was lovely!

Bentley, well, not much to say about Bentley’s run here. Oddly he popped the weaves (he only did it this once all day, so I think it was just a fluke) and Jonathan didn’t notice. He ended up with 1 point! I had to laugh because that’s pretty atypical for him!

Team Gamblers:

This was an interesting course. Team gambles are usually more time related than distance/send related, and this was no exception. If you can’t see on the course map, you could accumulate your points in the opening, but in the closing the two obstacles (couldn’t be another contact) taken after a contact were worth double the amoint of points. But, you could only use each contact once. And if you didn’t make it to the finish jump before the buzzer sounded, you lost the last two obstacles you correctly performed.

Let me just say, that is the first time that I have really pushed Lexi for speed. When that buzzer went off I knew I didn’t have much time so I had to do the whole outer perimeter as fast as possible. Unfortunately, we still didn’t make it (I should have gotten her to the teeter faster!), but I was so proud at how she did. Some wonderful things about this run:
1) I planned a great course for my dog. Not a ton of turning, so I was able to take advantage of her speed. We lost 7 points since we didn’t make it, and still had one of the top 3 scores. If I had gotten her to the teeter sooner, we would have beaten everyone by 5 points!
2) She broke her first dogwalk contact, and I marked it. The second time she held it like a champ!
3) No dropped bars even when she was running all-out.

Well, my husband had a similar plan, and managed to get Bentley on the teeter earlier than I did with Lexi, but still didn’t make it out. But, they did look really good and I could tell he got a little more speed out of him (though he jumps the dogwalk when Jonathan is cheering him on!)

Team Jumpers:

To me, this was a really hard course. Watching other championship dogs run it (especially the big dogs with big strides), I knew we would have trouble at the blue jump (13), and I also knew the end would be tough. I managed to keep us from being eliminated, but it wasn’t pretty! Getting to the blue tunnel she did really well checking in with me as a lot of dogs went off course there. I didn’t think she’d miss the jump coming out of the tunnel (10) since she tends to shoot out of tunnels, but she kept me honest and came in towards me out of the far tunnel (like a good girl) since I didn’t tell her otherwise. I hope you enjoy my lovely awkward semi-rear cross at the end!

Bentley did really well on this course, but this is definitely his type of course! He does just fine on the tighter turns (though he briefly considers back jumping at that hard to get to blue jump!) I really love the push/pull happening at the end. Very nice.

And last, and definitely least
Team Relay:
Each of us had one fault! Clever (our trainer runs her in USDAA) got a refusal, Bentley jumped his dogwalk (I assume a direct result of Jonathan allowing him to early release in the previous attempt during Gamblers), and Lexi dropped a bar. I felt like I showed her the right information using a backy uppy but I think maybe she couldn’t see because of how I was positioned.

Either way, we ended the day with a Q and FIRST PLACE out of all the teams there! I figure that’s pretty good considering there were a lot of great teams (and we were all small dogs!) Also, Lexi scored the most points in her height class, and the 4th most overall!

Jenn & Clever, Me & Lexi, Jonathan & Bentley 1st Place DAM Team "The 'A' Team"!