Thursday, February 17, 2011


United States Dog Agility Association.  Why bother with it, since I'm only now, after 2 years, finally getting familiar with AKC Agility rules?  And there is only one USDAA trial in or near Baton Rouge every year, so I have no intention of going for titles with either Maxie or Lucky.  And the local USDAA club, calling itself OverCome Agility, does not solicit members so there's no readily apparent way to get involved.  And, most of OverCome's few members are also members of the LCCOC.

Still, I have heard the USDAA trials are loads of fun, with different games and challenges than AKC offers - Snookers, Gamblers, Steeplechase.  And a lot of agility competitors around the country prefer USDAA to AKC, and it's an older club.  It has slightly different equipment.

So, I decided to go ahead and register Maxie and Lucky into USDAA, at $20 apiece, which I did online a few weeks back.  I'm waiting for those cards to come in the mail.  Meanwhile, I entered Lucky into the USDAA trial taking place in Baton Rouge next weekend, as a warmup for her debut as a Novice B AKC competitor in Port Allen.  I'm going to see if her AKC career unfolds as rapidly as Maxie's did.

I was shocked, after registering them in USDAA's Competition category, to learn that Maxie has to jump 12" instead of the 8" he trains on for AKC, and just as shocked to learn that Lucky has to jump 26" instead of 20".  That leaves Maxie out of USDAA trials unless I lower him to Performance status, which I might do.  I don't want to confuse him with different height jumps.

Higher height category doesn't much bother Lucky's chances, as she is a jumping fool and takes 26" jumps with ease. I have a few of these set up at home, mixed in with 20" jumps.  Last night on the agility field, after teaching my Beginners class, I had her run a whole course at 26", and I believe she likes it better.  I also learned from Tracey that in AKC, you can always enter at a jump height higher than the minimum required, which means Lucky can compete in a rarified 26" category that has very few other dogs.  This means much greater chances of placement and getting all those "wibbons" we like so much.  Checking the Running Order Lists from the last 3 trials I attended, there was only 1 26" dog running in every Excellent category, compared to 20-30 20" dogs, where the competition is very stiff and placement highly unlikely.

So I'm happy!  I'm just concerned about stressing out her shoulders.  I don't want to injure her.  I massage her shoulders every morning and night as it is (because I like the feel of her), but she doesn't seem the slightest bit sore or fatigued from last night's strenuous jumping.

A few Saturdays back clubmate Georgie M. gave a private class at her house to teach us the rules of Snooker.  That was nice, about 8 people showed up, and she served hot steaming chili afterwards.  She had a Starters and an Advanced course set up in her yard.  (The rules are the same for both, only more difficult sequencing.) 

The Rules: 3 red jumps (gates, worth 1 point each).  Dog has to take one gate, then any numbered obstacle, the second gate, then any numbered obstacle, the third gate, then any numbered obstacle, then complete a sequence of obstacles numbered 2-7 (27 points total), for a minimum total of 37 points, within a specified time period.  Highest points, then fastest dog, wins.  It's strategy, planning your moves so the gates are convenient to get to, and the dog lands ready to start the 2-7 sequence after taking the 3rd obstacle.  Oh, and there can be two like numbered obstacles, for instance 6a and 6b, in which case both obstacles must be taken to obtain 6 points.

Both Maxie and Lucky ran both courses.  We did well in Starters, with lots of points.  Advanced was too difficult for all of us.  Maxie got it on the 3rd try, but there were some weird configurations to get high points, one of which required running half way across the course to reach the next obstacle.  Like 35' away.  I learned we need more flatwork training (running alongside) to get this right.

Tracey warned me last night that some of the obstacles are different in USDAA, too.  The A-frame is taller, steeper.  The tripple bar jump is spread much farther apart!  Not sure Lucky could clear that, we set up a tripple using 3 singles and I tried Lucky over it.  She cleared it with no problem whatsoever.  Next week I'm raising the A-frame to test her on that.  We'll keep practicing til next week.

I entered her in Starters Jumpers, Standard and Snooker.  Two runs a day, I volunteered for Gate Keeper and other stuff, and we get to come home at night.  I intend to take videos of her runs and see how she does.  She can be full of energy, or totally lethargic.  With her, you never know.  Her highest motivation is tugging and chasing her toys, so I have to figure a way to tug her to the gate, hide the toy where she knows she will get it after the run is over.  I will leave Maxie at home so I can concentrate on Lucky alone. Should be fun.  That's in 10 days.

Am doing wash and packing for New Iberia trial, about 1.5 hours away.  Leaving 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.  Gotta go.

Upwards and onward,

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