Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July AKC Trial 2

Well, we spent another weekend doing Agility, so here's the usual recap :)

This was a two-judge trial again, which was really nice, and it also had a FAST course on Saturday! We get these so rarely in our area, as a matter of fact this was just our third try at it since we started competing in January without missing any local trials.

Hold the horses (or dogs?) though - we had our Standard and JWW runs first. Both were simply a disaster on Saturday. So much so, that I lost track of all the mistakes Philip managed to squeeze into just a couple of minutes. From what I remember though, Standard included a couple of wrong courses, a refusal on the weaves, and even a table fault! Philip actually decided to get off the table right before "Go" and we had to do it all over again - ugh! The jumpers course started just like I thought, with an immediate wrong course to a very lucrative tunnel. To top off the embarrassment though, Philip pranced in a circle before getting back on track, and also went completely around one of the jumps towards the end. I'm pretty sure his mind was on another planet during these two runs... It goes without saying that both runs were NQs.

Now back to the FAST run - we are still in Novice (due to its rareness), and the course was extremely easy. The send portion was a tunnel followed by a jump and was no problem at all. It was worth 9 and 3 points respectively, plus the 20 bonus points, for a total of 32. So we only needed to gather 18 other points for the required 50 to get a Q. These were easy to get on the way to and from the send area. So, going all the way around the outside of the course, this path would give us a total of 53 points. Just looking for an easy Q, this was my plan, but Philip seemed to have missed the 4-point jump at the beginning. I thought I heard the judge call it, but I didn't see him jump it, so just to be sure, I added a little extra path to our plan and had him go through the 10-point tunnel on the way out. This way we would have had enough if the 4-pointer didn't count, but it turned out that counted too, so we finished with 63 points, got our Q, and took second place. Only one more Novice Q to go in FAST!

On Sunday, Philip started off with a great Standard run. He listened to me well, got the weave poles entry spot on, and held his contacts as needed. I heard him tick a bar with his nails, but hoped for the best, and while that one did in fact stay up, unfortunately he stealthily knocked another one in the middle of the course. It's really too bad as this was a beautiful run and we would have gotten our very first Q if it wasn't for that one bar. But alas - another NQ instead.

The Jumpers course started out nicely as well, Philip was paying attention and got the weaves right again. The end was a little tricky though, having to turn away from me and wrap around a jump. Philip managed to knock a bar while maneuvering through that turn, and another at the finish line. So NQ for us, and we are still hanging in Open JWW with just one more leg to go.

Oh, and here's something interesting from the weekend - the Excellent JWW course on Saturday had the most curious tunnel set up. There was one tunnel in a fairly tight C shape, and another in a wider C going right around the back of the first one. The dogs approached the outside tunnel first and then had to do a U-turn over a couple of jumps and into the inside tunnel. I really wish we would have been in that class just so that I could try it - it looked fun and challenging!

Monday, July 5, 2010

July AKC Trial 1

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July! Philip and I spent a good portion of it going to another Agility trial :)

This weekend was a two judge trial so it went by much faster than the one judge trials that we usually have. We had an early start at 8:30am both days, but it was nice since the weather stayed cooler.

Saturday's Excellent Standard run didn't look too difficult, but unfortunately Philip knocked down the panel jump right at the first sequence. It was weird because he doesn't usually knock panels, but it did look like he took an awkward approach to it, so that might have been the problem. When we got to the table, the judge counted it off really fast, which I thought was funny, but I understood that she was saving time since we had NQed already anyway :) I actually wish more judges would do that so the trials can move a bit faster! At the end of the run, Philip messed up his weave pole entry yet again as well. I really don't know what's with him and the weaves lately...

The jumpers run looked really nice on Saturday, and I was very hopeful, but again Philip managed to knock the fifth jump in the course - sigh. Shortly after, he messed up the weaves entry for a good measure, and then I remembered that I'm supposed to be hurrying him through (he goes at a snail's pace in the weaves, and we are trying to break the habit in class). So I picked up the speed and he did okay, but then I continued going fast and totally forgot one of the jumps we needed to take - oops. So I gave Philip another wrong course and a refusal, went back to fix it, and we finally finished with 6 seconds over time!

Sunday's standard course was kind of crazy looking. The course was laid out in such a way that we had to run on a spiral (around a circle twice while closing in towards the center of the course), and then turn out of it for the finish. This presented a couple of lucrative wrong courses, one of which was a jump with the A-Frame straight ahead from it and a tunnel to the left. The first time around we were supposed to keep going straight, but on the second pass turn into the tunnel. When I watched other dogs run before us, all the handlers did a front cross between the jump and the tunnel to change their dog's direction. It was a good choice, and if I had a well trained dog, I'd probably go for it too, but I knew in my mind that Philip would prance for the A-Frame before I had time to front cross if I tried that. So instead I decided to hold back and cross behind Philip once I got him to the tunnel. I don't think I saw anyone else do it that way, but it worked wonderfully for us! Everything was going great through the whole spiral and I could almost taste the Q, but unfortunately Philip messed up the weaves entry, again! In retrospect, I might have messed him up there because I was being cautious and told him to weave 3 times. I think he knew what to do after my first command and might have gotten confused when I repeated it. Oh well, so close, but no Q because of that of course. Still, this was a very good run, we both handled some very difficult parts nicely, and there was no knocked bars!

Then we had a mishap on the field... skip this paragraph if you don't want to read a hurt dog story (I'm tearing up just thinking about it). While I was walking the Open JWW, some Excellent dogs were still running Standard, and I happened to be looking at them as a lab was running and took the teeter at a wrong time. His handler was trying to call him off, so he stopped in the middle and tried to turn around. Being a big dog, his right back foot slipped off the board, he flinched and stepped on the upper side of the board to catch balance. This in turn made the teeter start tilting and it pinched his fallen leg between the board and the metal supports. Words can't explain the screaming that followed this, and to add to the terror he fell off, completely twisting his stuck leg, as he lay there screaming. Of course, everyone rushed to his help, and while it probably only took seconds, it seemed like forever before they finally freed his leg. He couldn't step on it for a while and got carried out, but I found him later with lots of people huddled around him. They were icing his leg, checking the range of movement and feeding him lots of cookies. Thankfully he seemed okay - no breaks or dislocations, what a lucky boy!

This incident just goes to show what a dangerous sport this is for dogs. It might seem like all fun and games, but there are so many things that can go wrong. Even with all the rules that are there to ensure safety, we can't foresee everything. Please be careful with your dogs!

When our Open JWW run started after this, I think I was a bit out of it because I totally messed up my handling at the beginning. I planned to do a front cross, forgot about it, and ended up with a very awkward cross behind instead. This caused Philip to turn the wrong way while looking for me, and earned him a refusal on the following jump. Shortly after, we approached the tunnel - Philip was supposed to go into the far end of it, and I tried holding him back, but he was focused on the close end, and no yelling on my part could turn his head around. Tunnel entries like this have definitely been a problem for us, but we've been practicing them in class and doing well, so I'm not sure if I did something to cause it, or if he was just being a brat. The rest of the run went smoothly - no knocked bars, and amazingly, Philip hit the weave poles right on target this time, so that was a nice surprise of the weekend :) Since no wrong courses are allowed in JWW though, this was an automatic NQ.

So again we had a weekend with four NQs, but we have another trial this coming weekend, and I really hope we'll break this no-Q spell then!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Judge Signals

If you watch a trial, you'll see that the judge raises hand to signal various things as the dog runs. These are the signals for various mistakes that a dog can make that the scribe is writing down. The signals are slightly different in AKC and USDAA, so in case you are wondering what each signal means, here they are:

R (Refusal) - one hand raised up with closed fist.
W (Wrong Course) - one hand raised up with open palm.
T (Table Fault) - hand raised up with index and middle finger forming a "V". Can also be seen as one hand straight up and the other horizontally over it to form a "T".
F (Failure to Perform) - both hands raised up with open palms.
E (Elimination) - whistle or one hand horizontally under the chin.

R (Refusal) - one hand raised up with closed fist.
S (Standard Fault) - one hand raised up with open palm.
F (Failure to Perform) - both hands raised up with open palms.
E (Elimination) - whistle or one hand horizontally under the chin.