Monday, September 21, 2015

C-ATCH Bound!!

Tessa and I really and truly are C-ATCH bound!  That is the goal we have in our sights, and . . . barring injury or some such . . . we are on track to make it to our goal!

I LOVE where Tessa and I are right now.  About a year or so ago, Tessa and I passed the point where Maddie and I had been in our Agility progression.  Once I could say, "we are further than Maddie and I got" in all of the categories, I felt like Tessa and I had "graduated" to a special new level together.

We have accomplished a lot this past year.  We made it through Level 4, which was the single most difficult accomplishment I have ever managed to complete with one of my dogs.  Level 4 nearly whipped us, but we kept working at it and we managed to grow from a team who couldn't even qualify at that level to a team that could do so with confidence and enjoyment.

This was our first Level 4 run from August of 2014.

And here is a video of our 7th and 8th Q's that we earned - to get the Title - just recently!

Tessa's slow weaves will always be what they are, but we have improved together in so many ways since we started Level 4.

I am not intimidated by the prospect of Level 5.  In fact, we already have our first Level 5 Standard Q!  We may blip and NQ here and there but I know we can do this!

Just 9 more Level 5 Standard Q's to go!

We finished all the Colors that we need last spring.  I am continuing to run Colors, when the class is smack in the middle of classes that we need, to work toward a Colors Championship!  Tessa and I like Colors!

We polished off Jumpers, too, back in August.  No more Jumpers for us.  Even though I love Jumpers, the class seems to tire Tessa out.  So, I will look forward to playing in Jumpers someday with Bandit.

Our final Jumpers run . . .

Wildcard became quite the bugaboo this past spring and summer.  I kept making the dumbest mistakes that were causing us to NQ.  This time the problem was mine, not Tessa's!  She was doing very well and I kept messing her up.  But, on a very fun Agility road trip that Dean and Bandit rode along for, Tessa and I finally got the Wildcard monkey off our back and finished Level 4 Wildcard.

We lost her weaves a bit this summer, but they have returned since.

On to Level 5 Wildcard soon!  I am hoping we won't struggle so much now that we worked through the issues we were having with the class.  Five more Wildcard to go.

We need three more Fullhouse.  We haven't run Fullhouse in a while.  I am waiting for the cooler weather.  Last time we ran, we didn't have time to rack up the needed points.  Tessa runs faster when it's cool, so I am going to try to enter Fullhouse late this fall and in the winter to try to finish up those last three.  I don't doubt we will get them, but it may take some extra tries to hit courses that work for us with points.

That leaves Jackpot and Snooker, which happen to be my two favorite classes right now!  That's a good thing because we still have one more Level 4 Q to go in each game and then we will have 5 Level 5 in each game.  But I don't mind that at all since I thoroughly enjoy both games.

Jackpot - at least Traditional Jackpot - has not always been a favorite of ours.  Tessa has never been a distance dog.  She's not a super velcro dog like Maddie was, but she has never been one to actually send away from me to do things at a distance.

It had been my plan to get by in CPE Jackpot on non-Traditionals.  Even though there is usually a distance component in a non-Traditional Jackpot, it has sometimes been something that Tessa and I could do, but it is also usually optional and we could qualify without the distance by racking up enough points in the game some other way.  I have always considered non-Traditional Jackpots to be fun.  We really rocked the last one we did back in August.

We did Q on a couple of Traditional Jackpots at the lower levels when the distances were smaller, but we bombed on the one Traditional Jackpot we attempted at Level 4, almost a full year ago.

So, that was where I was - planning to rely on non-Traditionals and sharp strategy to rack up points.

But last spring I took an online class with Loretta Mueller at Fenzi Academy and she was positive that Tessa could learn to send.  And she recommended the item that made distance work a reality for us: the Lotus ball!  She had me work on forward sends with Tessa and I would toss a Lotus Ball full of chicken near her landing at the side of the jump.

Tessa ate it up - literally!  I started to see her run out ahead to take the jump eagerly, and then I began to see the light of comprehension dawn . . .

At first I was thrilled when I could get her to run a few feet ahead of me at class to take jumps that were ahead of us.  But she quickly progressed beyond that.  A couple of weeks ago, she went into a tunnel, I stayed back near it, and I sent her to a jump about 6 - 8 feet away, and then another - she completed a 180 with me at that distance.

And then I set a new goal.  Just once I wanted to complete a distance gamble in a Traditional Jackpot with Tessa at Level 4 or 5 - just once!

We got our first opportunity this past Saturday.  The gamble was a good one.  The distance wasn't huge, but there was a set of six weaves smack in the middle of it.  This was a worthy challenge that many dogs struggled with.

I knew Tessa could do it and I was excited to give it a shot!

And she did it!!  She came out of the tunnel and easily took the first jump in the gamble, which wasn't at much distance at all.  She briefly checked in with me, I said, "weave" and she moved off and took those weaves!!  All six - perfect!!  Then to the tunnel, which wasn't difficult for her.

I was thrilled!  This was a huge accomplishment for her!!

Now I am excited about Traditional Jackpots.  I want to try more and more!  I plan to continue Jackpot with Tessa even after we have finished what we need for our C-ATCH!

And Snooker . . . ah Snooker!  Always my favorite.  There is nothing I love more than to go out into the ring with Tessa for a good game of Snooker!

Unfortunately, I haven't gotten video of a Snooker run in a while.  Our last couple of Snooker runs have been super nice - I have included several back sides of jumps, which Tessa really enjoys.  But . . . no video!

So, that's where we are at!  9 more Standard, 6 more Jackpot, 6 more Snooker, 5 more Wildcard, and 3 more Fullhouse!!  That's it!

I can hardly believe we are here!  And we are having so much fun!  Tessa really is my perfect Agility girl and I am savoring every moment of this ride!

I am very much looking forward to what is to come!

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