Monday, July 6, 2009

Dog Sport Weekend

Busy holiday weekend this past weekend, filled with all sorts of dog activities.

On Friday, we kicked off the long weekend with a day of CPE agility in Dexter. I was very excited about this trial, as they were offering Jackpot, which is the last class Django and I need to finish his C-ATCH title. Of course, Jackpot was the last run of the day, so we had many hours of waiting for the big moment. Since Jackpot requires speed and distance, I decided to only enter Django in one other run that day. On long days of trialing, Django sometimes will start to work pretty close to me in the last couple runs, so I have more luck with Jackpot if he is fresh and full of energy. We started the morning with a "Q" (and fourth place) in Full House, then let him rest up the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, Tristan and Maebe each got a few runs in with their dad, and had some nice performances. Tristan was well on his way towards having another beautiful Standard run, when his handler forgot the course . . . again. So, still a nice run, just not technically correct. :-) Maebe had a blazing fast Standard run (24 seconds), but demonstrated that her contacts are not, in fact, fixed as we had hoped. In fact, she showed us that she can do the A-Frame while missing the down ramp altogether - not something I hope she ever does again! Nevertheless, she continues to command attention on the course, and Lowell had hours of conversations with other trainers with ideas, suggestions, compliments, etc. The little girl can move, that's for certain.

Django's big run came at the end of the day. I was nervous stepping to the line, but tried as much as possible to relax so he wouldn't feed off my stress. His opening sequence went beautifully - he was moving fast and following me perfectly. In fact, we actually ended up ahead of where I thought we'd be when the whistle blew - rare, as I have developed a good sense of how much we can do in the opening time. When it came time to do the Jackpot (a jump, A-Frame, far end of a curved tunnel, and jump), we started off strong. He came off the A-frame nicely, but headed to the wrong end of the tunnel. I pulled him back, re-sent him, and he headed once more to the near end. Called him off again, but he decided then that clearly he was not supposed to do the tunnel at all, and cleared the last jump. I didn't care though, I was so proud of how nicely he worked for me. I knelt down, hugged and kissed him, and told him we'd just try again next time. A spectator near the exit gate said to me "You couldn't have tried any harder for that - that was a nice run and you should be proud." I agreed completely. Lots of friends patted us on the back, and though Django still can't yet add those five letters before his name, there is always next time. Looks like the Stony trial in three weeks has TWO Jackpot offerings!

After visiting with lots of friends, we packed up the dogs, went home to hook up the camper, and headed down to Sandusky, Ohio for two days of flyball racing with Django and Maebe. When we arrived, we learned that there was an empty back-up spot on a team with some green dogs, and do to various injuries, etc., the team was short. We decided to let Jade step out of retirement for a weekend, and listed him as the back-up, so ended up with three dogs on teams.

Django and Maebe got to race on the same team together, which was very fun. The team was a nice one, with very reliable, consistent dogs. Unfortunately, we were seeded towards the bottom of the division, so had to really fight. And fight we did, running some nice close races and putting in some good times. Maebe ran several 4.3's with passes (over 10-inch jumps, not her favorite), and Django ran a couple 4.4's with passes, even towards the end of Sunday. The team ended up third, but the dogs all earned a lot of points for one tournament, putting Django even closer to getting his ONYX.

Jade had a lot of fun warming up a couple times and running in a few heats, but thankfully the novice dogs held up all weekend, as my decision to retire him was confirmed to be the correct one. Of maybe a half dozen runs, he only carried his ball past the line once or twice. After earning over 40,000 points, I know he knows how to play the game, and physically he still looks great, but somehow his heart isn't in it the way it used to be. I think his stamina just isn't what it was, and he is tiring quickly. Nevertheless, it made me happy to take him into the ring a few more times, and to know that we are making the right decision for him. He has had a great flyball career, and he has earned the right to spend his days now lounging on the couch and barking at squirrels.

The Noodle (Cadence) had a nice weekend as well. He saw flyball for the first time, and handled it well. He was a little surprised by the noise at first, but relaxed quickly. When the racing started, he looked up like "Oh, running dogs, cool" then instantly turned his focus to playing with me. Which, since I was not armed with a tug toy, meant trying to rip my watch right off of my wrist, but I appreciated the sentiment - that even in the presence of high-level distractions he is choosing to play with me.

Overall, a fun weekend of playing with the dogs, camping, and visiting with friends. However, I may re-think doing a tournament on July 4th weekend again, as Saturday night was spent holding Tristan while the fireworks were being set off. He held it together pretty well though.

Lots more camping, trials and tournaments in the coming weeks. Going to have to try and rest up this week in preparation!

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