Monday, June 28, 2010

Goodbye, Spring and Novice Courses

Never in my life have I been so thankful for air conditioning.

This was an extremely hot weekend of trialing.  Neither Marge nor I like the heat.  At all.  One day we battled the sun; the other day, it was the oppressive humidity that got to us.  Still, we had a very, VERY successful weekend.

Novice Jumpers was, for a change, the first class of the day on Saturday.  It was nice, because it meant no waiting around and not having to run in the mid-day heat.  So, my sister and I got to the trial nice nice and early, set up our little tent compound with our friends, and got ready to run.

Marge had no trouble whatsoever adjusting to the trial site (my college!).  Very, very glad that new trial sites are proving to be a non issue.  I guess, in Marge's mind, dogs + tents + agility equipment = I should be here and have nothing to be afraid of.  Maybe she doesn't even realize that she's in a new place.

I walked the course and was pretty confident.  There weren't really any areas that left me scratching my head; I had a plan for everything, and it helped that the course was extremely flowy.

This took us a blazing 20.52 seconds to finish.  Just like that, our Novice days ended (until we start FAST, that is) and we earned our NAJ title. All I needed was a front cross after the weaves and a back cross to get to the final line of jumps.  She hit 5.32 YPS - her fastest so far.  She was really zipping around this course.  I love Jumpers so, so much, and know that if we ever are going for our MACH, almost all of our points are going to come from here (our times are not nearly as impressive in Standard).

We had a long time to wait, so Marge posed with her well-deserved first place ribbon, and we headed home.  Sure is nice living ten minutes from the trial site.

We hung out at home for two or three hours, cooling down in the air conditioning, getting a bite to eat, all stuff like that.  We returned to the trial site a bit early to wait for Open Standard.  We wound up having quite a bit of company - three of my high school friends stopped by to watch us run, and Louie brought his parents, too.  I admit, having an extra six people around was a bit overwhelming, at least for me.  Marge didn't seem bothered by it at all.

I walked Open Standard and honestly thought it was a bit ugly.  The opening was tough as well as the closing.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go - there were no shortage of variables to consider.

I wound up leading out to past the second jump (longest lead-out in a trial so far), which made the opening a lot more bearable. She held her A-Frame contact beautifully, which I made a huge deal about while in the ring with her. She didn't wind up holding her Dog Walk, but I'm much less concerned about that. Her teeter was iffy, but she stayed on it. All in all, it turned out to be a clean run and a 2nd place.

Packed up after that and headed home.  I was SO tired; I had a graduation party to go to, and I was completely unthrilled about it.  I literally couldn't stand up!

A good night's sleep, 2 Aleve and a bottle of Gatorade later, and I was recovered as much as I could be to head back out for day two.

The second day moved very quickly - I guess who ever was in charge was doing things efficiently, and the fact that a lot of people left and even pulled their dogs out of some runs helped on time, too.  After waiting a bit, it was time for Open Standard once again.

Tunnel openings are always tricky, but it least it gave me enough time to front cross to the A-Frame, which she held again!  She also held her Dog Walk this time, too.  I was also extremely happy at how she handled the tunnel-Dog Walk combo - haven't trained that in a long, long time. The run was a little bit sloppy, yes, but what can you expect for a young dog and young handler running agility in the 90 degree heat?  The important part is that she's staying with me on these Open Standard courses - she's reading me pretty well because if she wasn't, we'd have wrong courses and no clean runs.

We waited around for Open Jumpers. Marge and her friend Diesel hung out in the shade of their crates and tents and breeze from their battery-powered fans.

Before I knew it, it was time for Open Jumpers - almost two hours ahead of schedule.  I walked the course and was extremely confident; it only required a couple of crosses and was very suitable to our favorite, back crosses.

It didn't exactly go as planned.

I didn't realize it was my turn; the gate steward pretty much told me at the last minute.  I normally wouldn't known, but a ton of people weren't there and no one crossed their names off.  So, we had to hurry in to the ring (which meant that my treat bag filled with juicy roast beef left very suddenly from under Marge's nose - and she watched with her eyes as it disappeared).

Then, she didn't want to sit on the start line - she was VERY distracted by something behind her.  Reflecting on it now, I think I would have been better off not leading out at all.  Louie thinks she was looking for him and the treats, but to me, it looks like she's looking at the stewards and leash runner behind her (the leash runner was a young girl, so I'm wondering if she thought it was my sister).  I finally got her going and she started running toward the fencing after the tunnel.  I called her and she came, but her weaves were so pitifully slow and she fizzled out at the 10th pole, which is completely uncharacteristic for her.

I waved my hand to the judge to signal that we were done.  And it was the best decision I made all day.  Something was bothering her, she was extremely hot, the humidity was oppressive and she had just given me three clean runs over the course of the weekend.  Why the heck would I push her?  It was obviously not worth it to run her, she was not happy to be out there, and it may have actually been dangerous if I continued.

When I heard that someone's poor dog had actually collapsed due to heat exhaustion at the end of the trial, I felt even better about my decision to pull her off the course.  Thankfully, he is OK.

And that was the end of our trial - the end of all agility trialing until September.  It seems like it's so far away, but in reality, it's not - the summer, though it seems endless, is only two months long.

A lot of good things came out of this trial and far outweigh any negatives that I can think of.  She held the majority of her contacts, she earned another title, she dealt with a new trial site, met lots of visitors, earned two out of three OA legs, and lots, lots more.  Though it would have been nice to end this half of the season on a high note in Open Jumpers, I really have no complaints.  In six days of trialing total, Marge Q'd in 8 out of 12 runs and earned two titles at four different trial sites.  Those are really impressive statistics for a dog who had to work so hard to get in to the agility ring in the first place.

Time for the both of us to get some rest and go back out there in the fall to gear up for Excellent.


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! June 28, 2010 at 12:59 AM  

Thanks fur sharing all of that!

Inkredible stuff!

Raegan June 28, 2010 at 1:16 AM  

8 out of 12! That's AWESOME! I'm glad the other dog is okay, summer trials are tough.

Kathy Mocharnuk June 28, 2010 at 1:33 AM  

WOW!!! What can I say, but I am speechless, that was AWESOME! Marge looked soooo confident and happy, especially those first runs. WOW! I LOVE that you did not keep trying to run when Marge was not happy, I think that was such a great decision so she does not think that is what the ring is all about, you did so good! Marge did so good!
HUGE CONGRATS at all you have done -- huge congrats on the title, you should be so proud of yourself and of your little girl! You guys have come so far in such a short amount of time, it is sooo cool to have been able to watch it all happen!

Scout and Freyja June 28, 2010 at 2:11 AM  

The furry bestest part was seeing Marge with her well won ribbons. Marge, you are a champion - in my heart you area a champion.

Dexter June 28, 2010 at 6:44 AM  

Good choice to stop before Marge got too hot. You have such good distance in the second movie. She is really working with you well.

Mango Momma

doberkim June 28, 2010 at 7:06 AM  

congrats - you guys looked great!!!!!!

Chris and Ricky June 28, 2010 at 7:27 AM  

Congratulations on doing a great job in horrible, hot conditions (yes, I don't know who had it worse this weekend - you guys or us - so I'll just say us - LOL!!!!). Marge did look fast and confident and happy out there! Awesome lead out in that Sat. STD run! Good job getting 2 OA legs (you'll be in excellent in no time)! And I admire your decision to end Marge's Open JWW run when you did - you really know what is best for your dog and you do what is best without hesitation!

Diana June 28, 2010 at 8:03 AM  

Congrats on your weekend. You guys looked great out there. Diana

Cyndi and Stumpy June 28, 2010 at 8:07 AM  

You can NEVER go wrong if you listen to your inner dog.

What a great weekend!


houndstooth June 28, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

She looked great on those runs! Congratulations to you both! I think you did great with her.

BRUTUS June 28, 2010 at 8:34 AM  

Bravo!! Looks like it's all coming together so nicely for you as a team! And Marge is just taking it all in, I love it! I'm SO glad I didn't enter anything this past weekend, as the weather was operssive here too! I would have had to pull out compeltely, Brutus just can't take that kind of heat or humidity. All we entered for the remainder of the summer two indoor trials, thank goodness!

And don't worry about Fast - it's crazy easy - you'll have your NF title in three runs, I guarantee it!

Michelle, Brutus (and now) Carmen

Amy / Layla the Malamute June 28, 2010 at 8:50 AM  

Congratulations!!! I'm so, so happy for you guys. I know fully how much work it takes to prepare for agility, and the fact that you guys are almost in Excellent already is incredible.

I loved the videos! I also think that tunnel openings are a little tricky.

It was an incredibly hot and disgusting weekend. I like the heat, but it was gross even for me. Even if we'd been able to go, I'm not sure if I would've gone and run Layla in it. Marge is really a trouper for sticking it out! I would've done the same thing, taking her out of the ring.

You guys had a fantastic Spring season. Good luck for the Fall!

LauraK June 28, 2010 at 9:23 AM  

Wow, what an awesome weekend! I love watching you gals run, you've come so far- and it's so fun to see a fast, confident dog out there running with you :)

Hope you two rest up and recover, Riley and I are exhausted from our trial too! Yay for fun agility weekends!

Anonymous June 28, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

You can NEVER go wrong if you listent o your inner dog.

What a great weekend!


I'm not anonymous...It's cyndi, Stumpy and Alf!

AC June 28, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

What a great trial! I still can't believe you two are out there at all. So many accomplishments. I really admire your decision to take Marge out of her last run. I need to do that more with Kona at training classes. I too often get sucked into the idea that it's good to let Kona cope and work through her fears. Coping is a good skill, but I need to be more bold in passing on things when she's too stressed. Thanks for the great example! Hope you got some time to relax!

Golden Woofs! SUGAR June 28, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

woof! Woof! That's pawsome. Lots of Golden Congrats. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Sue June 28, 2010 at 11:48 AM  

Look at you talking about MACH!!! It wasn't very long ago that you didn't know if you could handle your first trial and here you are with titles and ribbons. What a long way you've come and your friends couldn't be more proud of your achievements.

Now take a rest and walk the beach and think about where you're going from here. Congratulations, Sam and Marge.

Golden Samantha June 28, 2010 at 3:05 PM  

Oh huge congrats to you Marge and Sam!!! Wow wow wow! 8 out of 12 clean runs is extraordinary and a couple of titles too? WOW!!! And I think you were extremely wise to pull her from that last run - sounded like it was overbearingly hot - and can't believe you both got through what you did! Just wonderful! I'll have to go back and take a look at your Obed. posts - as you've prob. noticed, we've been shamefully MIA lately, but hope to get back on schedule a bit more now! Congrats again!
Hugs xoxoxo

Stella June 28, 2010 at 4:21 PM  

I know very little about agility except that its fun to watch. And it certainly is fun to watch Marge, such confidence and joy in the whole run! Much of that comes from you, Sam, and I am going to look forward to seeing you back at it in the fall.

Cheers and hugs,

Jo, Stella, and Zkhat

The Army of Four June 28, 2010 at 5:16 PM  

Way to go, Marge!!! and Sam!!! Ha rooooooo!!!
Play bows,
PS: We're all big fans of AC, too.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart June 28, 2010 at 7:47 PM  

You guys are awesome.

Funny flipside reality ... Marge sees all the equipment and tents and settles in. Lilly, on the other hand, sees it and goes OH CRAP! It's one of those places.

Canine generalizations can help us, and they can hurt us. :o)

Never Say Never Greyhounds June 28, 2010 at 9:42 PM  

Looks like a very successful weekend! I love jumpers too!

Lorenza June 28, 2010 at 10:33 PM  

Kisses and hugs

Muttsandaklutz June 29, 2010 at 9:14 PM  

You guys continue to do great! What a consistent team. Wise decision to pull out of your last run, good job reading your dog and doing what is best for her. Have fun getting ready for Excellent!!

Carolyn June 29, 2010 at 10:44 PM  

Awesome! You two are really fluent together. Nicely done! I can only aspire....:p


Kari in Alaska July 4, 2010 at 10:56 PM  

I am going to cave soon and buy a portable AC unit. Los Angeles without AC is terrible

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