Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oh The Learning

This sign is outside the arena where many of our agility trials are held. I've been meaning to snap a picture of the danes next to it for ages and finally did yesterday. I think I may have a picture of Heffner next to it at some point, but I don't really remember. Anyhow, if you have a giant breed dog, you've had your dog referenced to a horse or pony innumerable times and will probably find this at least remotely humorous.;0)

Yesterday I had Bess entered in a CPE agility trial. And as always, it was a learning experience. I will say, however, that Bess was great throughout and our problems throughout the day were all gross handler mistakes. Ug! For a dog who has done zero agility work since the match at the beginning of June, she was awesome!

For starters, the trial let me know that Bess can in fact take a little over two months off of agility completely and really be no worse for the wear. Most excellent!

Secondly, I learned that trialing during the summer is now officially out for us period. I don't trial Heffner during the summer in any sport because he doesn't do well in the heat. Ruthie will not be trialed during the summer (once we get to that point) because her anatomy predisposes her to having difficulties with the heat. And I will no longer be trialing during the summer because quite frankly, it makes me miserable. Miserable me, means that I'm not having much fun.

Bess was still awesome. She's not overly bothered by the heat and can still function quite well. She also recovers well after exercise in the heat. Two thumbs up for her. I, however, just don't do so well. I was not loving competing yesterday and kept wishing that I was out on the lake with the dogs or at least at home in the wonderful AC.

We have had a pretty mild summer this year and I have been absolutely LOVING it! It's allowed me to be more active with the dogs than I otherwise would be and I've been taking full advantage of that. We've been able to fit in up to three hour long hikes a week this whole summer. Additionally, running with the danes in the evenings hasn't been an issue either. It's been pretty fantastic! That changed yesterday. We have our first over 90 degree day of the whole summer. I realize that other parts of the country have been dealing with ridiculous temperatures and humidity for most of the summer, but we haven't, and the change yesterday kind of sucked. The arena that we trialled in was sticky hot. Even though it was well over 90 degrees outside, it was still hotter inside. And the air wasn't moving despite the ginormous building fans that they turned on. I was completely hosing Bess down before her later runs to keep her cool enough. Bleck! But lets get down to the nitty gritty details.;0)
I believe that I have mentioned before that Bess is a rather energetic girl. It is ideal upon getting settled at a show sight, that she have some time to warm up and work a few "kinks" out before entering an agility ring. Welllllllll....we sort of got stuck on I-5 during a bridge lift (when there had JUST been one five min. previously!), which had us getting to the trial site about 20 min. later than I had planned. And it took me a while to get our little area set up with the x-pen, crate, and other assorted stuff. And then there was the general briefing. And we were the second dog on the line. Soooooooooooo, Bess went from her crate into the agility ring. My bad! Our first class was FullHouse and it was an NQ. She handled her contacts well. She handled the obstacles well. However, we had a few zoomy moments. BUT, she came back to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I CALLED HER BACK! That is an accomplishment plain and simple. While we did not qualify, the class was still a success. Lesson learned. Next up was Wildcard.
We had a good plan and the run was going quite well. I warmed Bess up a little too much and hadn't yet started hosing her down prior to her runs, so she was a little hot and moving slower than is her usual. She wasn't even bursting out of the tunnels as she loves to do. Still, we were going along pretty well. I believe we knocked a bar on jump #4. I got in a front cross that worked mostly well. I was a little late on it and she ticked the bar, but didn't drop it. Then on the final jump I started celebrating as she took off and the bar was knocked. NQ. Bummer! Bessy did great though! Next up was Colors.
Everything was going well on this course. Bess was much happier after getting hosed down. We did have to restart the weaves, but I'm okay with that. This fall we'll work on rebuilding the value of the weaves. Otherwise Bess was running well and things were going great. Until the last jump. It was a straight stretch coming out of the tunnel and I just kept telling her "go, go, go." Not the best plan of action for me. She got excited and distracted by me on the final jump and went around it. I went to take her back and she back jumped it, and knocked the bar. I think we could have gotten away with the off course, but there aren't any allowed knocked bars in Colors. Bad handler on two accounts! Yelling commands at Bess while preparing for a jump when she's more sensitive to this. And then not being careful enough to redirect her around the jump to take it the correct way. D'oh! Next up were our final two runs of the day in Standard.
The first Standard run went really well! Or so I thought. It felt good, it was clean and I was REALLY happy with how well Bess did on course. None of that has changed. She was great and I'm very proud of where we're at considering where we've come from. My friend Shana had watched our run and she thought that we got called on an up contact on the A-frame. That's okay, we're allowed one of those faults with out it killing the run. Plus, I don't really care about the up contact on the A-frame with either of the danes. They take such a huge stride that trying to regulate them enough to get them to get at least one toe in the yellow is not something that I actually want to work on. AKC is okay with a missed up contact on the A-frame and I like that way of thinking. Unfortunately, it may be a deal breaker in CPE, we'll see. Otherwise, that's the only real fault in our run. Or so I thought. After seeing the results, we had one other fault that put us over the allowed limit and an NQ. I honestly have no idea where this other fault came from. She had great contacts on the dogwalk and didn't knock any bars. I thought it was a great run, but apparently we incurred a mystery fault some where. Bummer!
For our second Standard run, I am just going to plead that the heat was getting to me. At this point, just standing or sitting still was causing me to sweat because it was that hot inside the arena. Bess had gotten hosed down and was totally fine. Not even panting. I was melting. And apparently so was my brain. It was a fine course and Bess was doing everything I asked of her perfectly. And then after jump #8 I decided to make up my own course. I knew something was wrong when I realized that the entrance to the tunnel wasn't where I thought it was supposed to be. Instead of doing the double to the teeter to the tunnel, I did the #13 jump to the weaves and then to the tunnel. After realizing this, I couldn't even manage to get my bearings on course to realize where I should have gone. I was completely and utterly lost. Wow. That hasn't happened to me in a looooooong time! It was crazy. But I was fried and was happy to be heading home after that.

So no Q's this weekend, but I'm still very happy with how Bessy did. She was great! Her handler? Not so much. But that's okay, I learned plenty and I finally go the take home message that trialing during the summer su-didly-ucks for me!

After our runs were over I quickly started packing our stuff up and then got myself changed into my kickball garb. Saturday was our championship game!! Because the trial had run so long (I knew going into it that it was very unlikely that I would be able to run home and drop Bess off prior to the game), Bess was going to get to hang out on the side lines and be our team mascot.:0) Thankfully the field was completely shaded and there was a nice enough breeze that I wasn't overly paranoid about her getting hot. Everyone was quite smitten with her and she got a TON of attention from our team and people from the opposing team alike. I have to say that I think she was our little good luck charm. Our team was pretty much rockin' it last night! Not only did we win the championship, but we put in some of the best performances that we have all season. Adam was kickball black hole! Pretty much everything that came his way, he caught and got us an out. And the topping to my awesome evening was that I finally caught a freaking ball!! The tough team that we played in the final game has a few guys who have tagged me as the weaker player in the outfield and had previously intentionally kicked the ball in my direction with the plan that I would drop the ball and they wouldn't get the out. I am very happy to say that their plan totally back fired on them and I caught the first ball kicked in my direction!! Woot!!! It was a pretty tense and kick ass game and I'm stoked that we won!!

Since I'm well aware how long CPE trial days usually last, I decided to only enter one day this weekend. Which means that I have today to chill and enjoy my dogs!! This evening Bora and her parents are coming over for a little BBQ! We're excited to see them and Bora, since it's been a little while since we last got together and I'm sure that Bora has grown so much in that time.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

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