Monday, November 26, 2012

Lake Charles Agility Trial–Thanksgiving Weekend 2012

Maxie: 6 runs, 3 Q’s, 0 QQ’s, 35 MACH points 6 videos
Lucky Lucy: 6 runs, 0 Q’s, 4 videos

This trip began with stress and ended without it. I had the remnants of an old flu flare up after the agility seminar last weekend.  Bone weary from coughing and lack of sleep, I managed to pack the RV by parking the motor home right at the front door and moving things in there whenever I got out of bed for coffee, meds, or to powder my nose.  Plus, my RV fridge had mysteriously crapped out.  Wouldn’t work on A/C or LP.  John and I worked on the problem Wednesday night and Thursday, to no avail, so I ended up using it like a cooler, filled with frozen blocks of ice.  I ran both Maxie and Lucky thru the weaves 4 times before leaving home, and every time with both of them was fast and accurate.  I know the key to this weekend’s Q’s is going to be the weaves.

2012-11-23 002 003 (640x480)
Pit Grill, Iowa, LA
I always stop at the Pit Grill in Iowa, 8 miles before Lake Charles, and buy hot boudin balls to share with agility friends as a Thanksgiving treat. They are large, spicy, the best I've ever tasted, and only .50 cents apiece. This time I remembered to take some photos of the place. It’s a great grassy shady clean place to stop, pottie the dogs, and get refreshments.

I got to Lake Charles about 10:30 Friday without incident, and to my amazement the RV slot closest to the arena was open!  I grabbed it.  Would save me many steps all weekend.  I had 3 hours to set up before check-in. Thank goodness for that!

My RV, me and 4 dogs, on asphalt.  No grass,
no trees, even in winter, if it's sunny, it's hot inside.
Plugged in, and no electric power.  Stretched to the 2nd slot and still no power.  I went looking for the maintenance man, who confirmed both outlets were live.  My electric line wasn’t working.  He checked my fuses and breakers -- all fine. He opened the plug and found the screws in there were loose.  He tightened them up and presto, I had power.  Good thing because in the afternoon, cool as it was outdoors, it was getting uncomfortably warm in the RV.  Also, the refrigerator began working immediately! Hurray!  John had checked the plug back home but somehow had not fixed it. It was the cause of all our problems. I gave a few boudin balls to the maintenance man, who had refused a tip.
FRIDAY: Dogs ran Small to Tall.
Maxie’s first run was XJ,  a Q 3rd place, and covering 3.91 YPS, was among his fastest runs ever.  He’s only topped that once back in November 2010, at 4.32 YPS on his AXJ TITLE RUN.  Yikes!  Digging for that info, I realize we’ve been trialing 2 years since then, 17 trials, and only 10 QQ’s.  Not a stellar record.  Maxie’s 2nd run a “nearly Q” (he ran fast and sure but walked the weaves and popped out of the last pole). But the score sheets show 1R and 1E. I still cant’ figure out the score sheets.

Lucky’s 1st run was clean but 4 seconds over time, and her 2nd run was aborted after 5 obstacles due to a timer malfunction. Starting over, I couldn't get her focus back, resulting in 2 mistakes, but some parts of it were good.  My nose was dripping. My head was full of cotton. I was still standing, I didn’t get lost on course, and that was victory enough for me.
SATURDAY: Dogs ran tall to small.
Lucky first.  XS she took the wrong end of the far tunnel (a WC, my fault), got an E for missing the dog walk contact, and another E I can’t figure.  Maybe for not taking the tunnel correctly after doing it wrong? Her 2nd run didn’t get videoed.  All I remember is missing most of the walk-through and having to run it after watching about 10 others run, and the resulting NQ.  More on that under VISITORS below.  But it wasn’t  so bad for all that.  We only had 1 R and nearly made course time.

Maxie missed the weave entry on XS, otherwise a nice run.  He Q’d in XJ and ran darn fast, 3.5 YPS, but placed 6th.  There are some new 8” dogs on the scene, Sadie the Welsh Corgi for one, and a 3 year old Papillon named Bodie who has already MACHed, both of whose time usually exceeds Maxie’s by 10 to 15 seconds.
SUNDAY: Small to Tall again, and Excellent dogs on the line at 8 a.m. Up, therefore, at 5:45, to make sure I had enough layers of clothes on and coffee in me by 8 to function.
Maxie’s last chance for a QQ. Alas, he Q’d only once with a 1st place, but missed the other Q by just one wee tiny pop out at the weaves.
Lucky jumping the 24" tripple in Kiln last month.
Lucky the same, one clean and one mistake on the other, but always over course time.
One booboo I made with Lucky was failing to raise her jump height to 24”.  That worked well in her last trial and I had until Nov 19th to change it for this one, but forgot.  Had I done so, she would have had an extra four seconds on her clean run, and qualified.  And maybe been more excited to participate in the other runs.

There were flies, but she didn't try snapping them all up like last year.  In fact, she hardly noticed them.

I didn't bother posting Lucky's runs.  Nothing remarkable, somewhat painful to watch.  But here's a composite of Maxie's 6 videos, with commentary.  A few interesting points worth sharing:
  • This judge asked teams to enter the ring when the previous dog was only half way through the course. It was harder to keep my dogs focused in front of that first obstacle. I had to shake hands, walk them around, reposition them.  Over the gate keeper's protests that the "judge would get mad", I quickly started going in at the usual time - about 4-5 obstacles to go.  Even at that, there were delays.
  • Another timer malfunction makes me question whether our times were accurate.
  • When front crosses go wrong and you NQ as a result.

Audrey standing in front of the arena, with L to R,
Maxie, Willow, Pepper and Lucky Lucy
VISITORS:  Per her usual custom, Audrey drove over on Saturday and spent the afternoon with me.  She brought some of my favorite thanksgiving dishes – her sweet potato & green bean casseroles.  Unfortunately, her arrival coincided with what should have been my walkthrough for Lucky’s jumpers run.  I lost focus, only got to walk it 4 times, was not well prepared and of course, NQ’d. When they whistled everyone off the course and I grumbled of the short walkthrough (someone outside had told me the judge was still tweaking the course), the scribe said they had been calling and calling for me and where was I.  I explained about company arriving, the judge overheard and said “Best way to do agility is to tell your family and friends to stay home!”  With 2 dogs running and soon 3, and the amount of concentration required to be in the right place at the right time, with the right dog and all the right things in my pockets, and all the other dogs tucked safely away, my opportunities for visiting are dwindling fast.  It's nice to have someone help you walk the dogs and cheer you on though.
  • Came home with only 3 Q’s under our belt out of 12 runs, but I’m okay with that considering how under the weather I felt.
  • I tried taking Tanya's advise to study the course maps, but they don't hold the earlier allure.  I find I can memorize the courses by walking them 10 to 15 times, then walking them in my head several times.  The visualization is what sets it.
  • We had the same judge all weekend - Sarah Beathard.  I thought trials were required to have 2 different judges, so Novice and Open teams can title.
  • This was our last trial of 2012. 
2012 GOALS MET:  Maxie 10 QQ’s, 574 MACH points

  • Maxie didn’t earn his Masters Bronze titles, 2 Q’s to go in Jumpers and 3 in Standard to make 25 of each.
  • Lucky didn't earn her Masters Standard title, 2 Q's to go for that.
  • My dogs are not still not running their weaves at trials.
  • I am still not running fast enough, thus my dogs aren't running fast enough.

  • Bronze Titles for Maxie by next spring
  • MX title for Lucky by next spring
  • MACH for Maxie in 2013 (10 more QQ's, and 232 MACH points, will require more trials further away from home.)
  • Run faster, exercise, plug in the tread mill and use it.
  • Control my arms from flapping around, keep them down.
  • I would say "lose weight", but every time I say that I gain weight.  So I'll pray to not feel hungry as often.
  • I would say "stop smoking" but every time I say that I smoke more.  So I'll pray that I just forget to reach for a cigarette as often.
  • I would say "quit drinking" but every time I say that I drink in defiance.  So I'll pray that I'm just too busy to get fuzzy headed.  I only drink when there's nothing interesting to do.
  • Train small skills more frequently, indoors and out.
  • Work with Pepper in fun ways on impulse control, leash work, obstacle focus.  Train in different ways from the standard "run sequences an hour a week" we've been taught to do.  Add more clicker training, shadow handling, fundamentals.
  • Advance the sport of agility in any way I can.  Make it safer, funner, less intimidating.
  • ”Ear To Pocket” – that’s what your hands are supposed to do when you run fast, and you’re supposed to hold your palms open, not make fists.  Supposedly relaxes you and makes you go faster. 
  • Yes, I do flail my arms around too much, per Tanya Lee’s observations of me at the seminar. I do need to hold my arms down.
  • How to disassemble and check a 30 amp electric plug.
  • Walking 4 dogs at once is a feat, especially when one of them is a puppy who rear crosses the other dogs every 3-5 seconds.  What a tangled mess.  I borrowed one of Nathan's double leashes with the swivel on the end, and that helped, but the most help was resigning myself to walking only 2 dogs at a time.
  • Susan Cohen, whose dog ? rear legs are crippled so he runs around with his back half on wheels, told me about her research for the very best unit, and that she wanted to share the information.  I agreed to post it on my blog – next post.
  • Met 4 Bearded Collie owners, got their emails to send them the Weave Performance Study I did last year in Lake Charles which included their dogs.
  • Saw lots of very cute puppies, a few in breeds I’ve not seen puppies of – beardies and goldens.  Oh lordie, seems everyone is getting a new puppy.
  • Need a bigger AC unit on my RV.  The little one I have barely kept us cool in the middle of a sunny day in winter, parked on asphalt.  I’m going for a 15,000 BTU if 30 amps can handle it.
On the drive home, with traffic flowing smoothly and dogs all sacked out, I remembered how last year an orange truck had overturned on the interstate and everyone idled along at 3 mph for about 5 hours. And I just about ran out of gas and called 911 for advice before an exit appeared.  Now that was stressful.  Without that impediment this time, I got home full of energy and unpacked for 2 hours while John watched the Saints game.  Long hot bath with a vodka and grapefruit juice, bowl of soup, and then I slept like a baby.

Upwards and onward!

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