Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lake Charles Agility Trial - 2011 CKC

Maxie - 6 runs, 3 Q's (1 XJ, 2 XS), 2 1st places, 1 2nd place, 37 MACH points, 5 videos posted
Lucky Lucy - 6 runs, 1 Q (XJ),  6 videos posted
Well, no QQ's for Maxie this weekend (he Q'd once per day), though I have to say I was running faster and surer, and we were mostly just 1 mistake from Q'ing on each NQ run.  He ran fast and focused, always exceeded course time by 6-22 seconds) and I know for sure now there's a MACH dog in there.  We met our goal of adding at least 35 MACH points to our tally at this trial, but didn't get that 6th QQ we were hoping for. Mistakes were as follows:
  • XS Fri - no video, but he was under course time by 17 seconds, with only 1 fault, probably popped out of the weaves as I can't remember any other fault.
  • XJ Sat - knocked the first bar - he hasn't knocked a bar in over a year, but I positioned him, then repositioned him at the start.  I've never done that before, so I must have broken his concentration, or else the bar was barely on there (which happens).  Then he popped out of the 10th weave, still under course time by 7 seconds.
  • XS Sun - Skipped the 3rd weave. Otherwise a clean run with 10 seconds to spare, but the video shows his time could have been improved by at least 5 seconds with fewer wide turns.
SUMMARY: With Maxie's fast, reliable weaves at home, I can't figure out what to do about his less reliable weave performance at trials. Am I doing something different, like holding my breath, babysitting him, watching too hard?  As to the wide turns, we will practice more front crosses, which I tend not to do to spare my ankles, stronger pulls, and collection drills.
Lucky on the start line, intently watching a fly.
Lucky's runs went like this:  "Look a fly, try to catch it".  Flies in the stands, flies at the start line, flies in the ring.  OMG, flies everywhere, and Lucky the only dog I saw constantly lunging at them!  She must have captured and swallowed 3 dozen flies.  I couldn't always get her attention on the start line, nor in the que waving her tug toy in her face, or offering her peeled shrimp, and she HAS NEVER REFUSED THOSE before.  I once had to collar grab her at the start line and push her forward to the first jump, after which she proceeded along.  It must be programmed hard into her DNA to be a fly catcher!  Major distraction work is needed here.
  • XS Fri = clean run, but exceeded course time by 4.93 seconds.
  • XJ Fri - trotted around 3 jumps in a row, tracking flies, about the 15th obstacle decided to run and finished fast.
  • XJ Sat - Q, clean run, under course time by 1 second.
  • XS Sat - clean run, but exceeded course time by 9 seconds.
  • XS Sun - no faults until second to last obstacle, she leaped over the down contact on the A-frame.  Broke my heart because I failed to say "halt", tho I was pointing down.  Exceeded course time by .62 seconds anyway.
  • XJ Sun - clean run, but exceeded course time by 6 seconds.
SUMMARY: Lucky's problem continues to be lack of speed in the ring.  She is mostly accurate. Outside the ring, or in practice when I'm carrying her tug toy, she runs like the wind.  We'll be going to lots of matches next year.  We'll also practice on focus, learning to ignore flies and other distractions.  I also need to discover just how to "transfer value" (which Susan Garrett assures me can happen) from her favorite toys, tugging and fetching, and just plain running for joy, to agility.

Apparently I wasn't the only one whose entry got screwed up (last post).  Various CKC members proclaimed the situation "intolerable", "unacceptable", etc.  On Sunday they couldn't provide Q'ing ribbons, either, because they were left out on the scoring table and had gotten wet in the driving rain.  They offered to mail them out to us, which got a few serious competitors PO'd.  The trial secretary is going to catch some flack.  But my question is . . . . . has the club bothered to train her to take over when their usual trial secretary became unavailable?????  Here's a perfect example of my oft repeated concern -- clubs ought to be mentoring members for every job.  Never know when some key person will leave in a huff, move, die, have an emergency, etc.  Part of belonging to any club is being in a sharing environment.  One gets to learn things free of charge, or far, far cheaper than taking private lessons or paying school tuition.  Clubs are a natural outgrowth of people wanting to share what they know, meet and do things with others who enjoy common interests.  Sailing clubs, sewing circles, reading and/or writing groups -- all great social inventions that only work well with enthusiastic sharing, teaching, mentoring.

Audrey drove over from Baton Rouge on Saturday, stayed from 10:30 to 3:30, and it was real nice having a family member/best friend around. She brought me some of her famous sweet potato casserole, helped me manage the dogs and gave encouragement, but unfortunately she only saw the last 2 runs, neither of them Q's.

Saturday's Horrific Storm:  The weather was typical Gulf Coast once again -- cold, wet, and windy.  On Saturday about 4 p.m., in blew a horrible storm. The sky turned black, with north winds whipping thru at hurricane force, with trees bent over and heavy rain going sideways.  The dogs and I were tucked into the camper, and within 30 minutes of Audrey leaving the awning envelope was flapping and banging hard and relentlessly against the roof, the canvas walls were bowing in about 15".  Afraid my camper was going to blow over or the telescoping uprights that hold up the roof would snap, I made a command decision that it was better to be wet than crushed or broken, so I cleared the middle area, unzipped the clear vinyl window coverings on either side, draped them down over the couch cushions, and let the wind and rain blow right thru the camper.  I also unzipped the side windows a crack to let some air thru. This relieved enough pressure on the canvas walls, and they held.  We all sat out of the way, dry, on one bed, with all our belongings stacked on the other bed, for about 40 minutes, watching the water pour off the vinyl onto the floor.  Afterwards, I dried everything off with a beach towel, then swept about an inch of water out the door.  I don't know if Fleetwood designed this intentionally, but it was neat that the side windows had a rain flap, and the main window vinyl unfurls down when unzipped so it covered the couch cushions, which stayed mostly dry.  No damage was done, and the floor needed a good mopping anyway!

RV'ers Social: By 5:30, still raining on and off, about 30 RV'ers filtered into the concessions area of the arena and outdid themselves with a huge spread of food.  Each brought a dish, from home-made boar sausage, to shrimp scampi, rasberry salad, merlerton pie, and lots of desserts.  Judge Gerald Marotta attended. The boudin balls I brought from the King's Truck Plaze in Iowa were appreciated.  Tall agility tales were flying around, laughter abounded, I got acquainted with a few more folks.  Very colorful folks. So much talk, I didn't get to tell my harrowing tale about surviving the storm.

My new video camera rocks.  I was able to get vivid pictures, clear videos, and I can't wait to post a composite of all the closeup videos I took of Time2Beat dogs going thru the weaves. I hope to do that later this week, but with our mailbox down, a friend's funeral, weeding and decorating for Christmas needing doing, and this new laptop I'm still getting used to, it may be awhile.

My new laptop ROCKS! I was able to watch HD quality DVD movies Friday and Saturday night while tucked in the camper. Saw the first 2 seasons of Dallas!  Picture quality was great!  The built in speakers are adequate. I can import videos from my camera using Windows Live Photo Gallery, bypassing Sony's Picture Motion Browser, which I despise. 

RAFFLE: I managed to win 2 raffle items again. Paid $10 for 12 tickets, same as usual, and I'm guessing I came home with over $100 worth of loot.  What fun!
    Huge basket was full of LSU paraphranalia,
    including a few more items not shown.
    First, a huge basket full of LSU paraphranalia. I only put 2 tickets in the LSU drawing bag, and only because I liked the blue basket (matches my kitchen decor) for picking garden vegetables, and because Audrey called my attention to the potential Christmas gifts I could give my LSU-loving friends. I find it odd that I start liking football only 2 weeks ago, and the Universe immediately presents me with a huge LSU Flag, mug, dog collar, bracelet, blanket, back scratcher, piggy bank, LSU dog sweater that fits Willow perfectly, and other assorted LSU paraphranalia. That's how it works when one opens doors, (according to various scriptures, as well as my own pagan experience).
  2. I also scored 4 christmas hot chocolate mugs we'll surely use, with a Christmas vinyl tablecloth and rawhide chew wreath.  

I was actually not the last person to leave the campgrounds this time. Having figured how to shave off about 45 minutes and several buckets of sweat to camper set-up and take-down. Mostly, I store the shelving boards out on the floor instead of tucking them under the mattresses, I store the awning poles outside under the tongue end rather than the back end of the trailer (saving many steps), and I don't put out any decorative items. Also, by parking the camper with the door facing north, the sun hits the south side of the camper and gives afternoon shade where the table is -- so I don't need to put up the awning for shade purposes (in winter) -- a huge time savings.

Interstate Nightmare: The drive home was strange and stressful!  I left Lake Charkes at 2:30 Sunday with half a tank of gas, expecting a 2.5 hour, 140 mile drive, and didn't get home til 5 hours later, 7:30, because traffic on the interstate came to an idling standstill for 2.5 hours.  There was no news on the radio, so I called John and he couldn't find anything either.  I was watching my gas needle go down and had no idea where I was or where the nearest gas station was, so I eventually called 911 with my mile marker, and she said the Tiger Truck Stop was 2 miles ahead.  I reached it about 20 minutes later with less than half-a-gallon left in my tank - 9 miles worth.  It took another 15 minutes to pull up to the pump because the place was jam packed with people pulling off for gas, bathroom, food, and nobody was directing traffic.  The clerk said they had to call in another gas truck.  Oh, did I mention it was cold, windy, and drizzling? We found out that a cucumber truck had overturned at the Gross Tete exit at 10 a.m. and they expected it to take until 8 p.m. to get the interstate cleared.  I managed to park us in a safe spot, pottie the dogs in a grassy area, and prepared to stay put several hours if necessary.  About 6, though, I could see traffic moving on the overpass, got going, and made it home slowly but without further incident.  We had gas, plus a dry spot, food, water, money, my cell phone, nearby bathrooms, and each other, so I was calm.  The dogs mostly slept thru it all.

I always have done pretty well in a crisis.  I get practical. It was real funny watching numerous men jump out of their idling cars on the interstate, run across 40 yards of ditch, in the dark, to the woods, to pee.  Don't know what I would have done if I had had to pee. Certainly not cross a dark ditch! Probably just maneuver to the left lane, open both car doors on the drivers side, hold up a towel or sweater between them, squat, and pee on the road.

Motor Home Fever:  Of course, all those hours on the interstate and I'm thinking how I have to set the camper up to dry out the next day and what a pain that will be.   And all that while, in the next lane over, I'm idling alongside this beautiful BTCruizer motor home.  It looked small, about 24', with only 1 slideout, and seemed to be saying "Check me out! I'm perfect for you."  I called John and had him Google it, he printed out several sheets, and I Googled it the next day but we couldn't find one smaller than 27' with less than 2 slideouts or under $40,000.  I'm sure this one was shorter.  I'm now following a few E-bay bids.  Yes, okay, hell yes, I still want a motor home.  I can't see me setting up this camper when I'm 70, but I intend to do agility til I'm at least 75.  I want to stay packed and ready.
"The right motor home, at the right price, is on its way to me."
This basket is 15" across,
these grapefruits are 4" across,
a lot bigger than they look in this photo.
Monday evening John heard it was supposed to freeze overnight, so we picked about half the grapefruits (40) off our tree.  My new blue basket came in real handy!  John will take some to work, I'll take some to class and some to neighbors, and we'll be eating a grapefruit a day all thru December.  Mostly, I peel them like an orange, divide into segments, then peel back the thin bitter membrane on either side of each segment to get to the juicy pulp. Monday night got out the electric juicer and tried guessing how much juice was in one of the large ones, John saying 6 oz and me saying 5 oz.  He won.  Mixed half-n-half with Sprite, it makes a sweet dinner drink. Yum, yum!

  • Always gas up on the way there AND on the way back to any trial.  You never know when you'll get stuck idling on the interstate for half-a-tank's worth of going nowhere.
  • Pee before you leave, and every time you stop.
  • Have your car stocked with food and drink.
  • Don't bring the camper to Lake Charles ever again!  As someone said last year, you can always count on it being "cold, wet and windy in Lake Charles" in November.
  • Camping experience matters.
  • Backup Accommodations: The LaQuinta Inn in Sulphur had my reservation, and allowed me to cancel by 6 p.m. on arrival day.  The cost was about $50/night. Red Roof Inn offered some kind of 24 hour special that was about the same price.
  • Practice positioning and re-positioning my dogs at the start line. 
Now, with the weather cold and me staying in, I'm on to fooling with the 1st trial videos taken with my new camera.  I'm thinking of putting all of Maxie's videos together into 1 video per trial, with my audio commentary.  Same with Lucky.  Maybe a slow motion evaluation of good and bad points. We'll see how long it takes me to learn how to do that.

Upwards and onward!

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