I thought I'd timed my drive so that we'd have 15 minutes before the briefing this morning, but when I got there it had already started (oops!), so my day started with a mad rush to come up with a Fullhouse plan so I could walk it right after the briefing. I walked a plan and then, after the walking period was over, I decided to run a different plan that I thought would be faster and get more points. So, I hadn't walked the course I ended up running, but that was alright. Honestly, I think I get to know the course better from the map than from walking it. The walking helps to see what the angles are really like in real life, and sometimes the course is set up slightly different from the map. After walking the course once, though, I usually confirm my thoughts and am ready to go.
When I set Jonah up, he was a little funny and started wiggling backwards. I sort of grabbed him and repositioned him straight and then released him and started running. In all that awkwardness, I ended up on the wrong side of him and he was headed towards the table, which was live, so I just told him to wait, and we basically restarted our run after the first jump. I'm not sure what that was all about, but we recovered well. I still don't have a good sense of how long things take him, so we got all our points and finished the main course I'd planned before the buzzer sounded. I figured we'd just mess around with the jumps and tunnel right around the table until the buzzer. Well, my lack of planning beyond that point must have been evident to Jonah because he went to the table instead of playing around for points around the table. So, we finished before the buzzer even went off, but we had 27 points out of a needed 21. One other dog in our class had gotten more points so we ended up with a Q and second, but I was pleased with the run. He was moving along quickly and made nice tight lines through a pinwheel.
Our second run was jackpot. It was a (dare I say 'very') non-traditional Jackpot. Of course, I don't have a lot of experience with this so I don't know what options are for Jackpot, but this didn't have anything to do with handling at a distance at all. The deal was that you had to do the A-frame successfully the first time you tried it to 'get' the gamble. When you did the A-frame, assuming you did it successfully, then the previous three obstacles' points were doubled. So, the best strategy for the gamble was to do three 5 point obstacles and then the A-frame. The two possible 5 point obstacles were a 2 jump combination and the teeter which were, of course, on opposite sides of the room (and you can only do any obstacle twice for points). Anyway, I thought we'd give it a try. We did a simple line of jumps which got us to the combination. Then Jonah went nicely across the room without trying to do any other obstacles, he did the teeter nicely, and then we went back across the room, again without any trouble. He did the combination nicely, even doing a beautiful rear cross at the second jump. Then I called him to the A-frame but he decided the weave poles were more fun. He realized that I was calling him to the A-frame at the last second, so he went between the first and second poles and then came to me. Oops. I'm pretty sure entering the weave poles like that counts as 'committing,' so we went back, did the weave poles nicely and then went to the A-frame in the opposite direction from how I'd planned to do it. So, we had a doubled 5-5-3, which certainly isn't bad, but now my plan was all messed up. I think I did a pretty good job thinking on my feet and we went back to the teeter and did a line of a double jump, a tunnel and weave poles again, all of which were 3 points. The buzzer sounded and we ran to the table for 51 points (we needed 36), a Q and 2nd place again.
The dog that beat us both times was a very athletic young aussie with an experienced handler. We have a good ways to go before we could be competitive with that dog.
Our third round of the day was Jumpers. I thought the course was pretty basic, and my only slight concern was how to handle an offset line of jumps at the end. I didn't know if I should just handle it all on one side or try to rear cross one of the jumps. In the end I decided to stay on his right the whole time. When I set Jonah up, he did the funny wiggling again. Both times we had to wait a while for a bar to be set and he didn't like the waiting. I held him again, got him pointing the right direction, released him and started running. This time I stayed on the correct side of him and he took of like a rocket. My heavens, he has never run so fast in agility. The course flew by like light speed, and I barely got my crosses in while he was in the tunnels. As we came to the last line, he locked onto the last jump and ran straight past the offset jump, but luckily I caught him before he jumped the last jump, called him around and we finished the last two jumps easily. Our final time was 21 seconds, and I'm sure the fixing of the offset line had to have taken close to 5 seconds since he stopped fully and it took him a little bit to get back to me and turned back around. Man he was fast. Anyway, our fast clean run gave us our 6th Q of the weekend and a nice blue ribbon. The other dogs in the class all dropped bars. I'm not sure what their times were, but I have to think we were covering ground as fast as the aussie.
I was thrilled with the ending of the weekend because he was so enthused. I was totally exhilarated, too. A woman seeing us come out of the ring said, "Wow, he's really fast...and so are you!" I really hope we can have more runs like that in the future, because it was the most fun I've had doing agility, I think.
It is slightly frustrating that, even though he didn't officially get any faults today, he also didn't have any truly clean rounds--in each one he did something I hadn't planned on. He had the official off course in Wildcard yesterday, too. I'm not exactly sure how we fix off courses. They're all different sorts of issues. Anyway, that's a clear sign that we need more training.
We did have a bunch of highlights, though. Clearly getting all our Q's is big--he's 12/12 Qs. Finishing our Level 1 title is great, too, and we got a very pretty ribbon. He had no trouble with obstacle performance this weekend. His teeter was great with no sign of a flyoff. His A-frame was slow but his contacts were good. His weaves were good. He didn't drop any bars.
The biggest problem is that we're once again going to have to change our instruction plan once again. My school schedule this spring doesn't mesh well with All Dogs Gym or Riverside, so we're on the market again. Hopefully we'll find something good.