Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How about some Q and A?

Philip and I have been going to so many trials in the last few months that I've barely had time to regroup and post about anything other than our results...

However, summer tends to be a bit slower on that end, so I'll have much more free time, and thought I should spice up the blog with fun/useful information :)

Want any particular topic covered? Have a question you've been dying to ask? Or maybe something that you already know, but think others would find useful? I know I have at least a couple of regular readers, so speak up, give me some ideas ;) Just post in the comments section, and I'll be sure to respond!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

AKC Rule Changes in July

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Agility is still a young and growing sport. Many different organizations hold trials and offer various Agility titles, and each comes with its own set of rules. These rules morph over the years, usually improving on the safety or the challenge level of the sport.

Starting July 1st, some new rules are going to be taking effect in AKC Agility. Since Philip and I have a couple weeks before our next trial, I thought it would be a good time to review these :)

The biggest news is, of course, the new Time 2 Beat Class. I've mentioned it now and again before, and I plan on making a detailed post about all the rules closer to date, but I'm very exciting for this new class. It's meant to run more like the tournaments in USDAA, and should be a fun new thing to strive for. This class comes with its own new titles when certain points are accumulated, but I'll explain all that when I make a separate post, I promise.

Second up is the removal of MACH point place multiplier. As you might remember from my quick tangent on MACH points before, the current system has a multiplier in place, such that any dog taking 1st place gets their points doubled, and 2nd place dogs get 1.5 times the number of points. Well, starting July 1st this will no longer be in effect, so the number of points earned will be equal to the number of seconds ahead of SCT, no matter what place the dog came in.
This is both good and bad. On the one hand, it's better for those people trying to get into the top 5 of their breed and go to the invitational events, since there won't be a bias for dogs that run in smaller classes and default to 1st or 2nd places due to sheer lack of competition. On the other hand though, those of us just shooting to put a MACH title onto our dogs won't have the luxury of getting a point boost when our dogs do run fast and beat others anymore.

Last, but not least, AKC has introduced a PACH title. This title is very similar to MACH, but it is for dogs running in the Preferred classes. Previously, preferred dogs could only get PAX (20 QQs, no points) as their highest title, but now they have new heights to strive for. To earn a PACH title, the dogs have to earn 750 points and 20 QQs (just like for MACH, but doing so in the preferred height). The very cool thing about this new title is that it is retroactive, meaning that any dogs who have completed the required number of points and double-Qs prior to this date will still get the title added to their name!

There aren't going to be any obstacle changes that I'm aware of, so I think this about covers it. Be on the lookout for a comprehensive T2B post sometime soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First Double-Q!

I just posted about our AKC trial this weekend, but for those of you too lazy to read the whole thing, let me just point out that Philip got his very first Double-Q today! I'm so proud of my boy :) Yay!

May AKC Trial

Philip and I went to another trial this weekend. I wasn't originally planning on going to this as it was a little father than I'm used to, but I signed up for it because it offered FAST both days, hoping we'd get at least one of them and finish the elusive Excellent FAST title.

This trial ran FAST first thing in the morning, which was nice for a change, and Philip was full of it and ready to go. On Saturday, the Send bonus was very difficult, having to do the A-Frame, then take the back side of the tunnel, and go back over the A-Frame again! I don't know how in the world the judge expected dogs to get this one, but I'm pretty sure only 1 or 2 dogs qualified this course among all jump heights. Obviously, Philip wasn't one of them. He actually did the A-Frame nicely both directions, and even took the tunnel, but unfortunately he took the closer (incorrect) end of it. Otherwise, he ran a bit crazily, and even broke his lead out stay at the beginning, but I figured I should let him since it gets his energy out for him.

Next up was Standard. The course was a bit tricky, and I thought to myself that Philip might mess up one particular spot (the tunnel before the A-Frame), so I decided ahead of time that if he would mess that up, I would demand for him to stick his 2-on-2-off on the A-Frame or otherwise take him off course. Philip had an idea of his own though - he took off running like the wind and took a wrong jump right at the start, then ran past the chute and around it, and when we reached the tunnel I though he wouldn't get, he actually got it right. However I was set on my plan and the run was already ruined anyway, so I had him go up the A-Frame and asked him to pause at the end. Of course, he didn't even flinch an ear, and ran off. I was mad at his antics at this point, so I yelled at him to lay down, told the judge thank you, caught Philip and carried him out of the ring. I told him he was bad and didn't give him any treats (normally, I give him some no matter if he runs well or not, but not this time!). He looked confused, but eventually accepted his no-treat fate. Hopefully it taught him a lesson!

Last of the day was Jumpers. This course actually has a very nice flow and everyone ran it very fast. Sometimes it's boring to have easier courses like that, but this day it was a relief to me consider how Philip has behaved up until then. I don't know if the course was just really that much easier than usual, or if the lack of treats earlier has left a mark in Philip's brain, but he paid very close attention to me, and ran perfectly. He was a bit tired and not too fast, but we finished clean in 6th place, earned a Q and 7 MACH points. Yay, day not totally ruined :)

On Sunday, we woke up early again to head to the trial. About a third way from home I saw light rain drops on my windshield. No big deal I thought, but as I kept driving, the rain got harder and harder. When we got to the site, it was raining fairly hard, and it was windy and cold. On top of that, while I really hoped that Sunday's FAST would be easier, I came to find out that it again required a back-end of the tunnel :( Philip just doesn't know how to do these send, and I knew right away he wouldn't get it. I really contemplated not running considering the crappy weather, but figured we should give it a shot, plus it would be a chance for Philip to get his craziness out. So I walked the course and made up a vague plan to get minimum points necessary. Philip ran fast and seemed to have tried hard to pay attention to me. Still, as expected he took the wrong side of the send tunnel. I even did another approach to try it again, but again he took the closer side. I let him do the rest of the send, and then over the finish line. This weekend FAST just wasn't meant to be for us I guess.

The rain kept going, and the disappointing morning run made me think I should just head home rather than continue getting all wet and cold. I was already there though, and it was already paid for, so I tuckered into my car, and waited for out next run to be ready. Both Jumpers and Standard courses were moderate difficulty on map, so I figured we'd give it our best shot, and if all else fails, maybe get another lesson or two into Philip's head about listening to me on course.

Standard was up first, and right away Philip almost messed everything up. The run started with a C-shaped tunnel, so I placed him in front of the entranced and stepped to the side before telling him to go. He darted off towards me instead of the tunnel, and i scrambled screaming "NO!" and pointing to the tunnel again. I don't know how I stopped him from going into the wrong side, but he turned and went the correct way - whew! Judging by that start, I expected Philip to go crazy again, but he was actually very attentive to me and ran the rest of the course well! He didn't stick his contacts, but I did exaggerate slowing him down, so he still didn't miss them. As we finished the run, I was worried that a refusal might have been called at the beginning, but when the results were out, we had a Q!!! Guess since he didn't actually trip the timer, he didn't technically start running yet, so that's why no refusal :) In fact, he ran so well that he took 3rd place with 18 MACH points :D

Finally, we got ready for Jumpers. I walked it again to ensure I knew the course, and tried to keep Philip's attention on me. We walked out to the course, and he seemed a little tired, so he wasn't overly fast. This is good since I can keep better control of him when he isn't running like lightning. He came close to taking a wrong end of the tunnel before the weaves, but saved it in the last moment. He then sprinted ahead of me at one point, but I managed to slow him down when staying on track. A couple more jumps and we were done. I couldn't believe it, a clean run, a second one of the day! Philip got his first ever Double-Q!!! I waited for the results just to be sure, and he did it, he really did. He earned another 9 MACH points in this run, and we had our very first QQ!

What a way to finish the weekend. Our grand total is 2 jumper Qs, 1 standard Q, a total of 34 MACH points, and a Double-Q. I don't even care that Philip didn't get the FAST leg any more. The QQ was totally worth it. I'm so proud of my little man! We'll get that FAST another time (gonna be a while before another trial pops up with it), but thats okay, we are officially on our way to MACH. Good job Philip!