Monday, April 29, 2013


Yesterday Tessa and I switched back into Agility mode and went down to Periland to compete in CPE - Level 2 Standard, Level 3 Colors, and Level 2 Snooker.

On paper, the day was a rousing success.  We earned a Q and second place, in Standard, a Q and third place in Colors, and a Q and second place in Snooker.

But the fact is, we struggled throughout the day.  After the flawless dream that was Westminster, this trial served to bring me firmly back down to earth!  And while that is, objectively, a good thing, it does make for something of a long day!

First of all, when I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that I had forgotten treats!  I have never, in all my years competing in dog sports, forgotten to bring treats!  It's not that Tessa needs them to perform.  I don't even take treats when we go to wait our turn to go in.  But she appreciates a jackpot after her run, and I often use them when environmental things happen.  I knew it would be a long day for her without treats.

We were in luck, though.  There was a lady there selling good treats, and even though she wasn't open, she gave me a sample to tide us over until she opened up later.  She was very gracious, and I appreciated her help.  I could have gone down to Sheetz for cheese, but I preferred not to leave until I went to get lunch later on.

Standard was an adventure.  Tessa was NUTS!  I set her at the start line and went to the other side of the jump.  When I released her, she ran to the bar setter!  Tessa!  The dog who used to cower in fear when anyone was in her general vicinity!  Now she's visiting ring crew.  While I am happy about that one level, I don't want this to become a habit.  For the rest of the day I started with her, and we will be playing some GMAB to counter that tendency in a positive and enjoyable way.

To her credit, she did come right back to me when I called her, and then she proceeded to circle the jump once before taking it!  Thankfully, she did take it in the correct direction!  Then she was fantastic through a nice curve of 4 more jumps.

There was a bit of a handling challenge at the end of that curve.  The next piece of equipment was weave poles, which were sharply to the left of the last jump in that curve.  But right in front of Tessa, dead on and close, was a very inviting tunnel entrance!!  I tried having her do a rear on the flat at a bit of a strange angle, and that actually worked.  But when she got to the weave poles, she started to run parallel to them, instead of weaving them!  I called her back to start over and she immediately flew back into that stinkin' tunnel!!!!

Sheesh - I actually considered running her into the tunnel, off course, on purpose, to begin with.  You can have an off course in Level 2.  But I want to do better than that, so I did attempt something that I felt recognized good handling!  Tessa wasn't buying it, though!  She was getting into the tunnel by hook or by crook! 

While she was tunneling, I flipped around so she would approach the weaves on-side, and then she weaved them.  She did a nice A-Frame, and took a tire, double, and dog walk nicely.  After another jump was the teeter and she did it!!!  I am super proud of her for that!  I am still leary of teeters she isn't familiar with and she handled this one perfectly!! 

But I didn't handle quite right.  I was on the wrong side to get her into the next tunnel, so I just looped her around in a Freestyle swing, and off we went!

I knew that in spite of Tessa's shenanigans, that was a faultless run, but I wasn't sure if we made it on time.  We did - just barely!  Technically we were over by a few tenths, but they must round down on Standard because we got the Q!!

One thing I will say - Tessa had a blast on that run!  I have no video, but I will always remember what a wild child she was on that one!  She did get her zoomies out on that run, thankfully!!

It started to rain at that point, and I was so, so grateful for the new building!  Had Periland still been an outdoor trial, we would have left after Standard!  Although it got rather damp and chill throughout the day, we were dry inside and we had a safe surface to run on!

Since Level 1 had to run after Level 2, we took a break then and went to get lunch.  After we got back, Level 1 was about finishing up, so we got ready for Level 3 Colors.  I walked both courses and found that the one I liked best was the one I didn't think I was going to like!  The lighter color course was actually shorter and did not have a teeter, and it had on side weaves, which Tessa seemed to prefer yesterday, for some reason, but it also had a really nasty turn that pretty much required a rear cross, and I just didn't want to deal with that.  Also, I wanted Tessa to get more experience on the teeter.  What are we there for if not to try things?  I decided to risk the teeter in favor of the course that didn't have the rear cross.

All in all, it did go well.  We ran the first part pretty nicely, and the teeter went off without a hitch!  But then she missed those darn off-side weaves again!  I'm not quite sure what is going on with that.  Off-side has always been her stronger entry!  She just couldn't seem to see it yesterday!  So, again, I flipped myself to the on-side, and she weaved perfectly, but then I had to loop her around back into position and that threw off our timing!  She thought it was a great game, and she puppy bowed deep into the dirt!  LOL!!  Then we took off in the right direction, but I was flailing, and flopping my arms around like a nut!!  But Tessa finished the course perfectly!

We did qualify, and we were under time, but barely!  Having to re-situate the weaves cost us.

On one hand, I am grateful that Tessa is getting her teeters done.  I'd rather have weave pole problems than teeter problems any day of the week.  I know that Tessa knows her weaves, we just have to refresh them a bit.  I think part of the issue may have been angle of entry (straight on), but in any case a bit of retraining is in order.  We can make them better than they were before.

I do have a video of this run, but it is not yet uploaded.

Then we waited.  And waited, and waited!  Levels 1 and 2 Colors had to run, and then 3, 4, 5, and C Snooker.  And, during that class of Snooker, a woman fell and an ambulance had to come and get her!  Even Tessa was a little bothered when the big garage door down at the ring-end of the building rumbled open and the ambulance with the flashing lights came in.  She was OK when I got her out of the crate and hung around talking to people.  That showed her that what was happening was normal.  But some dogs really got freaked out.  There was even a skirmish between a couple of dogs in a crate down at one end.

Of course, my prayers are with the woman who fell, and I am hoping that she gets well soon.

Finally, it was time to run Snooker.  I had considered scratching the run hours before, but had resisted the urge.  I am glad now that I stayed even though I was not in the zone at all and we pretty much muddled through!

It was a pretty decent Snooker course.  I had a plan for opening that ended up working very well.  We went  into the closing and had no problems with 2 and 3 (both tunnels), 4 and 5 (both jumps), but when we approached 6, which was another tunnel, I could see that Tessa was starting to commit to the wrong end of the tunnel, which was correct because of my line.  I had a split second to push on her line to get her to the correct end and . . . I just stopped!  I stopped and watched her run into the wrong end.  It felt like I was standing there for 5 minutes, just watching her run into the wrong end!  I was pretty much thinking, "she went where I sent her and I think we have enough points", and then, as I anticipated her exit from the tunnel, I started for the table, knowing that we were about to get the whistle!

The good thing was that we did have enough points.  Up until that tunnel, that was too beautiful a run to throw away!  I guess I was just tired, and finished, but that was such an odd response!  I did have about a second to change Tessa's path - and I just didn't bother!

She was a good girl, though.  Flawless for her part!

So, it was an odd day of Q's that almost didn't happen!  But they did happen, and I am grateful for that.  I think my mind and heart were still someplace else, and maybe Tessa's were, too.  But we worked through it together, and were successful in the end.

I am hoping that by SuperPup in 2 weeks, we will be more in the Agility zone!

Photo by, used with permission - Standard Run, final tunnel 

Photo by, used with permission - Colors, teeter

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