Monday, January 10, 2011

ADAA: Awesome Dogs All Around!

Entry Fees: $258
Gas: $30.01
Bruise salve: $9.95
Replacement screen for iPhone dropped on concrete: $106.05
Total cost for the weekend: $ 404.01
The exhilaration and entertainment of being able to run all three girls at the ADAA USDAA show:

My recent Songs for Dogs post was merely a preview what was to come this past weekend.  Clearly, no practice efforts can actually compare to the joy/terror of running our three wickedly different googly-eyed yahoos in a real show.

I won’t lie; based on those practices I truly prepared myself for an unmitigated disaster. I tried to prepare my mom for the worst, but she maintained bright-eyed optimism in the weeks before the show.  Even while watching me fail time after time with Black Dog and/or The Dog in practice. Multiple Dogs= HARD.

In the end I maintained cautious optimism (though I packed my Disaster Kit with all the other show gear) and was duly rewarded. All three girls were brilliant! And I survived running them! Amazing, as Black Dog seemed intent on killing me. I am covered in bruises from her abuse and my arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets from tugging (also my back is badly in need of re-alignment now). That girl has a lot of power and she isn’t afraid to show it. (Solution…Shutzhund-ing??)

Overall, White Dog was the ‘best’ with 3 for 3 qualifiers in her classes (Steeple and Snookers X 2).  She was our only girl to survive Saturday’s Snookers course- I learned that Snookers is a new game when you are running it at 7pm, are delirious with hunger and sleep and the course is crazy.  My brain was only able to manage the opening- the girls all ran beautifully through it, however then my brain switched offline. Only White Dog was able to discern that my feeble commands and late arm flops were my attempt to navigate her through 2 and 3 of the close. The baby girls did their best but alas aren’t used to having to switch gears into Service Dog mentality. Only White Dog can deal with a Special Handler.

Black Dog did really well for me too. She was so UP for everything that was thrown at her this weekend, but her eagerness was at times our downfall.  A bit careless on jumps, a little lack of patience, and fast and loose on some contacts.  We started out great, with qualifications in Gamblers and Standard right away, but then fell apart the rest of Saturday.  I’m sure her mother who understands her wouldn’t have had the issues we did so I chalked them up to the learning curve and moved on. Sunday was much better; we figured out her warm up and she ran clean in everything with breakneck runs in Standard and Jumpers. Thankfully, no necks were actually broken, but it was a close call in Day 2 Jumpers when I practically had to drop kick her into the correct side of the tunnel.  

And then there was MY girl. She was so good. I thought for sure she was screwed- that she would pay the price for me being stressed over running the other two- but no.  We had a very good weekend; she qualified in everything but Saturday Snookers and the last Jumpers run (weird bar).  Our Steeple Q was also her Tournament Bronze Title. I completely hosed our Steeple Round 2 but oh well. It was still fun to try and push her to see what I got. We determined we need to work on pushing for speed on ‘easier’ sequences because she gets out of control on fast lines of jumps.  Good speed, but no way of turning her once she got going.  Also contributing to this was the fact that all the courses ended in the same corner, so when she saw that corner coming she drove out to her leash. I believe she actually had her mouth on it during the midpoint of Steeple Rnd 2.  So while I love the drive towards the exit, I have to figure out how to turn it off when it’s not the end of the course!   (But even if it wasn’t convenient drive I am really not complaining - by the last run of the weekend or even the second day she is usually much droopier. Had no problems with that this weekend. Cool.)

She also WON gamblers, which makes me SO proud.  Historically we either have a nice opening and a bad close or a nice close but bad opening. Really good to see that when it comes together it adds up to something great! Overall her times were really good too.  We managed another Super Q Sunday (always welcome!) and her time in the first Steeple round was great (good enough to make up for a bar down and then some). Standard was better than ever (YAY AUTO DOWN ON THE TABLE!!!!) and she had her best YPS to date on Saturday in that class. I’m so happy to see her finally getting into the top of the pack in terms of times. Rather than seconds off it’s down to tenths separating her from top times. Obviously now that I am running in her a way she is familiar with and NOT like a superimposed alien and since I have stopped stressing over qualifying it is all coming together.  Doesn’t this just prove that we all have amazing dogs and the only thing holding us back is, well, US? Mental game. So important.

So there you have it. No disaster kit necessary.

Author’s note:  Super big warm fuzzy hugs to the ADAA crew for hosting a January show, and equal love to all the local helper monkeys for making it possible.  My only complaint would be the amount of cheese-related peltings…You know who you are…

So…Can we do it again next year?

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