Saturday, June 9, 2012

Agility Retrospect ...(part 1)

Why the he** is it so difficult for me to keep up a simple blog?! From what I've been told, we all get the same amount of time in a day - 24 hours...right? Well, whatever, just a few obstacles in life, I suppose.

...Hey! Speaking of obstacles, I need to document Zainey's agility accomplishments, so let's get on with it. Since they are so out of date at this point, I thought about covering the past three trials in one post, but since it appears we probably won't be trialing for a while as we instead focus on some behavior issues (more on that later), I am going to really drag these out. Besides, she's accomplished way too much to just shove it all into one condensed blurb.
I'm going to take you back in time now to our 2nd agility trial, all the way back to January 2012. The location is Elk Grove and the mornings are flippin' cold as heck! 

Friday afternoon, checking out the new venue

We ran 6 courses over two days: 2 Standard; 2 Wildcard; 1 Colors; 1 Fullhouse. ...

A quick definition of each of these different types of courses:

Standard ~ Just like it sounds. All of the different obstacles can be used in the set-up of a standard course (with the exception of the teeter and weaves in level 1)
Wildcard ~ Performance Dog Training has some great articles that help define CPE games and summarizes Wildcard with the following "There are 3 choices or wildcards embedded in a Standard style course. As you perform a Wildcard course, with 10 – 12 obstacles, you will encounter 3 wildcards along the way. The choice you have at each wildcard is to do the A obstacle or the B obstacle". In level 1, you must take 2-A obstacles and 1-B obstacle; the challenge with this is that if your plan was to do the sequence A,A,B when you hit the course, but your dog took the B obstacle first - you better have a back-up plan for your handling to now complete the course with B,A,A as your sequence. (Confused yet? - go to the linkl)
Colors ~ Again, someone else can sum this up better than I can; from the CPE rule-book, "Successfully run your choice of one of the two over-lapping mini-agility courses on the same field.  ...There are 8 - 12 obstacles on each of the two courses.  The two courses must overlap or cross paths at least 2-3 times." The challenge here is to not screw up and give your dog a wrong signal, sending them to an obstacle of the course you are not actually running. 
Fullhouse ~ from CPE again, "Successfully accumulate required points for your respective level, which includes three of a kind, a pair and a joker, before the whistle". Once the whistle blows you have 5 seconds to get to the pause table where the dog must get at least one paw on the table in order to stop the clock (after 5 seconds you start losing points). "Three of a kind" are 1-point obstacles (single bar jumps); "a pair" refers to 3-point obstacles ('circles'- tunnels, chutes, tires) and "a joker" is a 5-point obstacle (A-frame, dog-walk, teeter, weaves, broad, double and triple jumps). Unlike other courses, this is not a numbered course. Each handler 'designs' their own course to run in order to collect the points they need. (Confused again, aren't you!?)

We had a good time at the trial - Our Agility-Besties (Patty & Sophie) were there competing as well, and while we both had our highs and lows (who doesn't), the best part of the weekend for me was having Soph and Z off-leash together for the first time. The facility at WAG has a couple of fenced off areas to exercise your 4-footed athlete and our reactive girls had a good ol' time playing together. They both behaved well and since they have good recalls it was easy to reign them in before they got too worked-up.

As far as our actual runs, here are our results. The links will take you to the video...
Saturday Standard, L1 - Qualified, 1st place, 0 Faults
Saturday Wildcard, L1 - Q, 1st, 0 flts
Saturday Fullhouse, L1 - Q, 1st, 0 flts 
Sunday Standard, L1 - Q, 2nd, 5 flts (I just watched this video again, man was she distracted!)
Sunday Wildcard, L1 - Q, 1st, 0 flts (I tried to get a weave in, she looked at it and said NO!)
Sunday Colors, L1 - Q, 2nd, 5 flts 
Good thing she looks good in blue!
As usual, I have plenty of thoughts to ramble on about. Being that it was only our second trial, and a different venue than the first, Z was still anxious at times. She did seem to be adjusting to the whole scene though as she realizes that none of these people or dogs are there to interact with her; everybody is in their own world, consumed with their own business, which helps her to relax a bit. In the ring however was another story - she was still a bit unsure and something about the arena itself had her scanning every which way at various times while on course. It didn't help that it seemed like every course we ran had a delayed start -A new and/or nervous dog needs to simply get on the course, get lined up, hold a short start-line stay and GO, not sit there forever with the leash and collar already gone, handler looming overhead, waiting for the stupid electronic loudspeaker voice to bellow it's command to start the dang course! Ugh! Also, while Z didn't take issue with it quite like Sophie did, the non-rubberized contact equipment we ran on can offer a bit of a challenge when a dog is accustomed to the grip and cushion of running rubberized. (Poor Sophie got one feel of the dog-walk, said "hell no!", and jumped off the side.) Ugh again! The people at WAG were awesome though - very helpful and friendly which is a big part of the experience for me. I don't do agility to deal with competitive drama and personality conflicts - I have a job for that!

My favorite run of the weekend was Fullhouse...
(actual video link above in results, don't try clicking on this screen cap like a moron)
Fullhouse? Who knew!? I was dreading it. Big time. It sounded so confusing and random and intimidating. It wasn't. It was fun and easy for us since she's such a speedy little thing and in level 1, you'd have to really be off your game to not get your required points. I did walk away with some mixed feelings about the concept of the game though - since it isn't a numbered course and you can pretty much do whatever you want, it can be tempting to just let your mess-up's happen, not correct your dog's path when they take an obstacle other than the one you indicated (or as most often is the case, you screwed up and need to correct your cues) and just continue on and run the risk of totally blowing all the work you've done to establish a clear handling system with your dog. For Z and I, I will pledge to always  put our handling before our Q's (yeah right, ask me that again if I ever get deep into trialing and am desperate to do anything for a qualifying run).

So, let's wrap this up...
We already had our 2 required Qualifying legs in Standard for our CL1-R Standard title back in October, so the Standard runs were for practice only. We got our Q in Fullhouse that we needed (to add to our Jumpers Q from back in October) in order to earn our CL1-F Fun title. We got our Q in Wildcard that we needed (to add to our Colors Q from back in October) in order to earn our CL1-H Handler title (the Colors run this time was another 'practice' run).                                 Yea us!...
My Image My Image
Up next... Snooker and Jackpot in Santa Rosa! Fingers crossed that we'll finally have our full baby-dog CL1 title and maybe even move up to level 2 where the scary teeter and tricky weaves await us!


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