Monday, October 21, 2013

The Perfect Day!



I have been trying hard to be a reasonable Agility person. I usually choose to run Pico one weekend day a month and choose 3 or 4 runs so as not to over stress him. I try my best to find a crating space that is tucked in and away from the main walkways. Pico is a high-energy dog who can get stressed if pushed too far. While his crating has improved dramatically, he still loses his cool with certain movements outside of his crate and especially around high-energy dogs (which is funny because he lives with Gilda!)
Gushing stress hormones are not conducive to concentrating and running a course! (I should know as I suffer the same with seemingly each run!)

This weekend, I abandoned my 'Reasonable Agility' persona and I officially became a CPE Addict:

1. I had everything packed and ready to go on Thursday (including my lunches for both days and bazillions of carefully cubed tasty dog treats).
2. I showed up at the trial site Friday evening after work and vacuumed mats for an hour so that I could set up our stuff in a prime back corner spot away from the hubbub.
3. I was able to volunteer and help with ring crew Saturday and Sunday now that Pico is getting more comfortable with the trial scene.
4. I was one of the last to leave on Sunday!

Pico really handled all of this very well and I'm thrilled with the outcome of our first nearly full Trial weekend. Pico was extremely nice and friendly to tons of people which made me happy. He was a little stressed by some of the dogs but we did our best to manage that. Here is how the weekend went...


Fullhouse is a strategy game so there is no numbered course. Level 2 requires the Handler to design a course using at least 3 Jumps (worth 1 point each), 2 Circles: Tunnels, Tire (worth 3 points each), and 1 Joker: Contact, Jump Combo (worth 5 points each) totalling at least 21 points.
The Pause Table is live at all times during Fullhouse and Pico has a history of running to the Table at random times and stopping the game, resulting in an NQ! Therefore, my Fullhouse plan usually involves, avoiding the Table and making my necessary points rather than attempting to accumulate as many points as possible.

Our plan was to run away from the Table! We ran Jump (1), Jump (1), Jump (1), DogWalk (5), Jump (1), Jump (1), Combo (5), Tire (3), Tunnel (3) [here, our FullHouse was complete], Tunnel (3), Tunnel (3), Jump (1)... Table for a total of 28 points and a first place. Our time was 28.34 seconds [SCT 40 sec]
The curse of the magnetic Table seems to be over!


We have been a little hung up on Standard because Pico was having Teeter issues and his Weaves were coming along a little slowly. We have done a lot of Teeter work and he seems to sort of like it now thanks to lots of Reinforcement with High Value Rewards.

This was a nice, flowing course with 15 obstacles. My plan was to lead out to 2 with Pico on my left. I would do a Blind Cross while he was in Tunnel 4 and have him on my right for Obstacles 5-12. I would Front Cross after 12 to send him to the Tunnel at 13, then bring him out of the tunnel on my right, send him to the Weaves and through the Tunnel at 15! We had to restart the Weaves once but he completed them and got a  Clean Q, First Place, with a run time of 46.54 [SCT 67]. I was thrilled with how well he did! Best of all, he really ran the Teeter to the end.


For some reason, Pico does not like Wildcard... This time, however, it wasn't the Wildcard that got him, it was the Weave Poles! The course looked like this:

For Level 3, we needed 2 'B' obstactles and 1 'A' obstacle. Since I knew he was required to weave at 5, I didn't want to choose the Weaves at 11 (a 'B') so I formulated my plan around that! Unfortunately, Pico would not complete the Weaves with 3 attempts (all off of my Left... more on that later). What he did do however, was a fabulous forward send to 6B!! I was so sure he was going into that Tunnel,  that I took off. I was up by Jump 8 when he came out of the tunnel and he was flying. Just as Jessica said, he knew to take 7 in between us! He had no trouble finishing the course beautifully. I felt really good about his speed and his attention on this one despite the NQ.


I was fully aware that if we completed this run, we would be eligible to move up to Snooker 3 for tomorrow's run. I tried to keep that thought in the back of my mind!  Snooker tends to freak everyone out except for Pico! I don't know why but he is very consistent on this game. I tend to be slower and more deliberate on this game and he just seems to  fall in to place and follow right along.
To get a Qualifying Score in Level 2, we needed to successfully complete our Snooker AND accumulate at least 28 points.

We ended this run with a Second Place Qualifying score and 34 points. I truly cannot remember our Snooker, and try as I might, I cannot figure out how we ended up with 34 points! I believe we did a Red-2, Red-3, Red-2 Snooker but to get to 34 points, we must have missed an obstacle in our close! However we managed to do it, we were now eligible to move up to Snooker 3 for Sunday!

{Pico visits Jack & Chase to get some Weaving Pointers}


We were not entered in the first run which was set to start at 8:00 so we left the house at 7:40. When we arrived at the trial site, everyone was yelling, "You're in this run!" I looked at the ring and people were walking the course! Diane (Karma) was kind enough to hand me her map (That's it below, I never gave it back to her!) and tell me "Circles!". I was able to walk the course exactly once before the whistle blew! I was panicking inside but I was so thankful that this happened in Colors of all the games!

I went out there and winged it! By now, I knew that Pico was not able to stay at the Start Line so I put him on my left and ran with him! At the weaves, he missed his entry so I turned him around and sent him off of my Right, and he completed them beautifully! And so we had a Colors 3 Q with barely a walk-through! 
After talking to the Trial Secretary, we discovered that she had inadvertently moved us up in Colors instead of Snooker!


Pico Loves Jumpers! And other than the 2 sets of dizzying pinwheels, I really liked this course! I started Pico on my Right and kept him there until 8. I did a Blind Cross while he was in  Tunnel 8 and he took 9-10-11 off of my Left. I did another Blind Cross while he was in Tunnel 11 and he took 12-13-14-15-16 off of my  Right. I was very careful to stay on my line for these as the Jumps zig-zagged a bit. Pico got them all for a clean Q with a run time of 33.09 [SCT 41] Giving him second place.


On Saturday, many of the Snooker Level 2 participants were loudly expressing their concerns over the difficulty of the course. I was a little dismayed as negative feedback does little for my confidence! Today however, I had to really work to shut my own mouth because when I first looked at our Snooker course, I had no idea how it could be done!!

For Level 3, We would need to a) Complete our Open (Snooker) and b) Accumulate at least 30 points total.
After much discussion with others, while walking the course, I completely changed my original plan!  I decided on Red 1, Obstacle 5, Red 2, Obstacle 6a 6b, Red 3, Obstacle 2 for my Open (Snooker) and then 2-6b for my Close. After adding up my points, I realized that I did not need the Weaves at 7 to Qualify so I opted to skip them for Pico's sake.
Pico followed right along taking each Obstacle I cued and we ended up with a 36 point Snooker Q and a First Place!


I like this course. I planned to start Pico off of my Right and then keep him there through the DogWalk 10. I would Rear Cross him into Tunnel 11 and them pick him up on my Right to take 12-13-14-15.
Pico started the course very stressed for some reason. Uncharacteristically, he refused the A Frame... Twice! Very odd. He started sneezing between 3-4-5 which worried me because the Weaves were coming up. As soon as he committed to Jump 5, I cued the Weaves and decelerated. He needed restarted once on his Weaves but it was smooth sailing after that. I think my Blind Cross after 11 must have been late because we nearly collided (I guess that negates the 'smooth sailing' comment). We managed to end the run with a Clean Q and a run time of 59.83 [SCT 63] and a Second Place. Not bad for all of that!


My goal at this point in our CPE career is usually to go for a Q rather than try for more points. This was a Non-Traditional Jackpot so rather than being required to complete obstacles at a distance from the handler, we were required to:
1. Accumulate at least 16 points before the buzzer (at 35 seconds) and
2. Get our Gamble by getting at least 5 points USING NO MORE THAN 3 OBSTACLES (20 points)

In Jackpot, the Table is not live unless you send your dog to it. However, your dog must hit the table to stop the clock and end the game. I sort of put my plan together backwards knowing that we needed to end at the table. Working backwards, I decided that ideally, I'd like our Gamble to be the Jump-Tire-Jump as that would give us 5 points (in 3 obstacles or less) and a clear shot to the table with little chance of Pico adding in another obstacle and negating our Gamble. I also decided to omit the Weaves and Teeter for Pico's sake. My plan became: Tunnel (3), Jump Combo (5), Double Jump (2), Jump (1), Tunnel (3), Back through Tunnel (3), Jump (1), Double Jump (0 for wrong direction!), Jump Combo (5), A Frame (5), Tunnel (3), Back through Tunnel (3). Just when I was ready to send him back through the tunnel, the buzzer sounded and we were in perfect position to do our Jump-Tire-Jump Gamble and hit the Table! We had accumulated 34 points and we completed our gamble in 3 obstacles for 20 points so we finished with a First Place, 54 point Q with a time of 32.37 [Game Time 57] {It seems that our buzzer must have blown at 30 seconds rather than 35!}

So in the end, thanks to the Trial Secretary entering us in Colors, Pico had his very first Perfect Day Qualifying in 5/5 Runs!! He really seems to improve with each Trial we enter and he truly seems to love running agility. After all, Fun is the name of the game...

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