Saturday, December 17, 2011

Last Trial of 2011

One year ago, Dave and I went to Riverside to watch the trial we competed at today.  I remember we watched a nontraditional Jackpot and it took us quite a while to figure out what was going on.  There was a line down the center of the ring, and if you were on the opposite side of the line from your dog as the dog did an obstacle, you got double the points.  Anyway, I remember watching and having no clue why obstacles were sometimes one point value and sometimes another.  Eventually we figured it out, but it seemed a little crazy.

A year later, I feel like a pro at these trials.  We have a regular schedule, we know what to expect, and I feel like we have the skills to do any course CPE throws at us.  We're in the upper levels for every class, and I think we're among the better performers of those upper level dogs.  I'm really proud of Jonah's progress.

Maybe I'm just on cloud 9 because we had another fantastic day, but I am truly proud of him no matter what our results are.  Here's a recap:

Round 1:  Jackpot Level 4
     We got to do another nontraditional Jackpot, and it was one of the easiest Jackpots I've ever seen.  There was no distance element at all.  We had 25 seconds in the opening to collect as many points as possible, and then when the whistle blew, if you did three obstacles and then the table you got 20 points and if you did four or more obstacles and then the table you got 25.  It didn't matter what the obstacles were--you could do just single bar jumps if you wanted.  The only catches were that if you had a fault on any obstacle your 'gamble' was negated, the table was live after the whistle blew, and if you exceeded the 18 second time limit after the whistle it was an automatic NQ.  A few dogs did screw things up for various reasons, but in general the Q rate was quite high.  Jonah ran well.  He did peak at the judge on his first time over the A-frame and as a result he put in an extra chip stride on the down ramp, but he was well into the yellow.  Then he had a slight sniff attack where he saw something on the ground and decided he had to momentarily check it out.  Once he got over that, though, he was off to the races.  His second A-frame was lovely.  We were in the middle of the weaves when the whistle blew, and then we finished a nice pinwheel for the 25 point gamble and plenty of time to spare.  I was pleased with my plan and the flow of the course.  We ended up with 57 points.  I'm pretty sure if he hadn't done that sniffing he would have gotten the jump he stopped in front of and finished the weaves, so we could have had 61, which would have been one of the highest point totals in the whole trial.  57 was pretty high as it was.  One fast small dog (so 7 more seconds) in level C managed 67, which was by far the leader.  Anyway, Jonah's 57 was good enough for a Q and first with a 6 point buffer between him and any other dog in level 4.  That's our first level 4 jackpot!  woo!

Round 2:  Wildcard Level 3
     This was kind of a funny course in that all three of the 'B' obstacles were easier than the 'A's.  My plan was to go for the third A, which was a hard pull to a tunnel entrance, where the other side of the tunnel was straight ahead from the previous jump.  The beginning of the course ran beautifully and Jonah was super speedy.  Then, perhaps fortunately, he slowed and looked at something on the floor again.  It gave me enough time to get a FC in between the jump and the tunnel, so we got the job done easily and he raced for home, still finishing with a fast time despite his little 'episode.'  It would have been a good test for us if he'd been running at it at full steam and I think he would have gotten it without much trouble, but I'll take the Q.  It was still a fast enough time for 1st, too.  Now we're done with level 3 wildcard.  When we finally get to run colors and pick up 2 of those Qs we'll be done with level 3.

Round 3:  Snooker Level 5
     This was our snooker level 5 debut.  Getting three 7's was possible, and I think 3 dogs did it, but it was not flowing at all.  I decided to go with 7-6-7, which was a much smoother course and only shorted me one point.  It still took a lot of handling, as he had to do a lot of running between obstacles to pick up his reds and get from the 7 to the closing, but Jonah handled it great and his motivation stayed high the whole time.  His weaves (part of the 7 point combination) were great, and I gave him some tough entries.   It was fun to get to the closing--it was a lot easier than the opening!  This is good practice for some day when we'll need super Qs in USDAA.  We were definitely the top 15% of our class, and got another Q and 1st.

Round 4:  Jumpers Level 4
     This course was causing a fair amount of problems for people.  It's a small space (65x80.  They can't even run standard courses there it's so small), so lots of off-course possibilities were always right on top of you.  Before the run I made an extra effort to get Jonah hyped up, and he went tearing down the first line.  Then he did a pinwheel nicely, but they always demotivate him a little bit.  Then I trusted him a little too much coming out of a tunnel and over-handled an off-course that I'd watched bite a lot of people, and I pulled Jonah right off the jump in his path.  Bad me.  He didn't take any other obstacles so we turned around and continued on our merry way with no faults, but I felt stupid for breaking his rhythm.  Luckily he picked right back up and had a fantastic finish to the course.  Again, even with the little bobble his time was fast, so we finished the day 4/4 with Qs and blues!  Good boy Jonah.

To add to all the fun, the trial flew by and I was picking up my last ribbons at 2:30.  That might be a record.  It's nice to actually have a free evening, and Dave and I were able to go grocery shopping and make a nice dinner.  A great end to a fun day!

In more somber news, I had sad news from a friend I've made at these trials.  Her one dog, who started at about the same time as Jonah, has been injured for a while, and when I asked how she was doing she said that she is still injured and now also has a partial intestinal blockage, and they don't know the prognosis.  Her other dog's liver is failing, too.  It's just a reminder that we need to be thankful for the times we get to run with our dogs and enjoy the fun we have together, because we never know how long we'll get to share those experiences.  

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