Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Amite Agility Trial Thurs-Sun

Maxie: 6 runs, 3 Q's (two XS and one XJ), 2 1st places, 1 2nd place, 1st QQ, 87 MACH points
Lucky Lucy: 6 runs, 2 Q's (one each NA and NAJ), 2 2nd places, 2 Novice Titles: NA, NAJ

The RV Parking area, right up next to the arena.
My pop-up camper on the right.
Just got back from 4 days in Amite, about an hour from home. Spring breezes, clear skies, but still got into the upper 80's and I broke a sweat a few times.

I brought the pop-up camper. John followed me there on Thursday morning, we arrived around 11 and had 3 hours to set up then help the ring crew set up for the match at 4. He stayed thru Lucky's novice runs on Friday before heading home. Then I was on my own, including packing up the camper to leave on Sunday afternoon. I was the very last one to leave, except for Michele S. who mercifully stayed behind to help me. It was hot, windy, I had trouble getting the awning zipped up and was running on fumes by that point, just short of tears. When I got home I was totally exhausted. Michele S made a good point -- that the pop-up is good for "testing out whether I want to do agility", but if I decide I really do, I should get something more comfortable and easier to fool with. Also, she said motor homes don't really give much trouble if you use them regularly. The problem comes in with them sitting up.

Lucky with her Novice Title Buttons
and 2nd place Ribbons

LUCKY: We got a shaky start from home, leaving a few hours late because Lucky was throwing up and had diahrrea. I believe she ate some poison grass off the club's agility field on Wednesday night while fetching her tug toy from the grass. The field had been sprayed the day before. She was the only one of our 4 dogs who got sick, so it wasn't a virus. At any rate, she had an empty stomach on Thursday, half rations on Friday and more diahrreah, and she had NO BOUNCE IN HER STEP whatever. I lowered her jump height to 20" from the 26" she jumped in Mobile. She managed to get her 3rd leg and TITLE in Novice Standard on Saturday, though, so moved up to Open Standard on Sunday where she scratched horribly with a "Where The Hell Are You Going" kind of run. By Sunday afternoon, though, she was clearly feeling better, and managed to get her 3rd leg and TITLE in Novice Jumpers, too.  I took her photo when we got home, but never could get her ears up. She seems not very fond of her wearing her ribbons on her collar.

WILLOW:  Maxie did much better in the crate with Willow along, no howling or yapping, earning Willow the official title of "Crate Mate Extaordinaire". While she is virtually untrainable in doing anything but whatever she wants to do (which is eat, speak, and be close to me), she now has an important job at trials and does it very well.

MAXIE: As to performance, Maxie nailed the weaves 4 times, ran fairly fast and fairly smooth, didn't sniff a single time or run off to visit anyone, mostly paid attention to me, made very good time, QQ'd for the first time, and got double MACH points for 2 1st place runs. His success was helped by the fact that Gee!, a long haired dachshund with more experience and very fast, was not behaving well this weekend. Found out later his owner/handler, Sharon, had hurt her foot on Friday and Gee! must have picked up on that. Also, two other Papillons, Jet and Lilly, who usually smoke Maxie on time if they Q, weren't running this weekend. All that spelled good luck and placement for us.

PLACEMENT: Just goes to show there are all sorts of angles to placing, and it's not dependant solely on your dog's performance. Only Q's and Time are a pure measure of performance.
VIDEOS: I was not able to video the 8" Excellent dogs, as usual, but I couldn't video the Novice dogs either, including Lucky and me, Kimberly with Beau, nor Jane with Bean. John caught us on Friday, Kimberly came back all day Saturday to help with the videos, Nedra, Loralie and a new friend, Lisa Jones got us Sunday morning, and Tracey hung around til the bitter end on Sunday to, in her own words, "support our club's novice teams", which I greatly appreciated and she videoed us all with my camera. By the time the novice dogs run, see, most of the Excellent teams have cleared out. I find it odd that our instructors don't hang around to see how their own students are doing! If it was their child or family member, I bet they wouldn't even think of leaving.  Be that as it may, unless I get a willing video crew together, it's going to be impossible to film the 8" and 20" Excellent dogs shortly, when I have a dog running in each height category. I enjoy filming and reviewing everyone else's videos, but if I can't get my own dogs filmed, I won't be filming everyone else!

RV CULTURE: The RV'ers outdid themselves every night. After all the teams went home and the crew had laid out new courses for the next morning, out came dish after dish of food, the RV'ers and some crew gathered around a rectangle of cafeteria tables in the atrium, and the laughter could be heard for 2-3 hours after that, from all the way out in the parking area. I was invited over and over to attend, by Joe, Michele S, and others, and I made a brief appearance on Friday night for a few bites, but I was so darned exhausted on Saturday night I couldn't even lift a spoon to my face, much less walk back to the arena. I was asleep by 9 p.m. and didn't regain consciousness until 5:30 a.m. Apparently there is a strong RV culture I didn't even know about -- people who camp out routinely at the shows have created a strong agility family. Sometimes the hosting trial crew provides a few dishes, games, etc. I don't think our club does that, but the RV'ers all invited me to take the initiative in Port Allen. I think I'll bring them a pot of my chili, but just on my own behalf.

STAMINA: I am utterly astonished at the stamina these agility regulars have. I mean, up at the crack of dawn to set up courses, reset courses all day, run several dogs, solve problems, after the last run and everybody else leaves, show up to lay out courses for the next day, then party for hours afterwards, day after day. And all with the greatest good cheer. Then poor Michele S, the Trial Secretary, after all the other RV'ers have left, stays behind for an extra half-hour to help me finish packing up my camper and hitch it to my car. That girl has incredible strength and speed, always good natured and sweet. I couldn't get over how fast she works. Even at her age, I don't remember being that fast. But she made me realize how slow John and I move these days, especially me.

Trial Site Summary: See here.


At one point, while walking a course, some of us complained to the judge about an obstacle being directly in the path between two other obstacles. It seemed it should be moved to the side a few feet. She explained that Agility was a test of handler's awareness as well as the dog's ability to follow, and she refused to move it! This compared to last week, when the judge moved a see-saw out of the way so handlers would not trip over it as they rounded the corner.

On one run, after the last jump, Maxie and some other dogs ran out the gate and could have been disqualified.  It is important to continue to direct your dog away from the gate opening after they complete the last jump, and if they do appear to be running out, call them back sharply.

  • Lucky's Novice Titles, but not quite at Maxie's record of 6 Q's in 6 runs. Lucky made 3 Q's in 6 runs for Novice Jumpers, 3 Q's in 5 runs for Novice Standard. This in 2 trials, Mobile and Amite. I also got her measured for the 2nd time, so she should get her permanent jump height card from AKC within a few weeks.
  • Maxie is on track for 2011 with an equivalent of 1 Q in each category at each trial (of course I would prefer we did better, but this is my minimum goal). We've done 3 trials: New Iberia, Mobile, Amite, and he has 3 MAX Q's, and 3 MAXJ Q's (10 needed for each Masters title). As a bonus, he now has 1 QQ, and 87 MACH points, which count towards his MACH titles. I don't have any goals set for qualifying for Nationals 2012, which requires 6 QQ by later this year.

  • Lucky: Two more trials, 12 more runs, 6 Q's at least, 2 Open titles. Improved speed. Placement.
  • Maxie: Try to exceed the current average of 1 Q per trial per class. Try for QQ's and MACH points. Improved speed.
  • John and I want to attend a Nationals Championship, not to compete but just to see how it is. I've heard the dogs at those levels run so fast and so accurately, it puts our local standards to shame. I want to see if that's true.
  • Continue to improve my stamina.
  • Ditch the camper. Get an RV. While the camper is cozy and comfy as can be and I love being in it, it takes too long for one person to set up and take down. It's best if set up in one location for a week, with no rush to vacate or fear being left alone in a strange place
 Upwards and onward!

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