Another Agility Weekend

Traveled to Salem, Oregon this weekend for an agility trial. Mainly because the option of staying home on a long holiday weekend wasn’t very appealing. I get very grumpy when I have to share trails with the masses that decide to come out on long holiday weekends. I realize that’s not a very gracious attitude, but being bumped and jostled, being constantly told how friendly other pooches are and seeing a lot of inappropriate footwear pisses me off.

So off me and JaYoBaCa went to Salem. Originally intended to leave super early to avoid any and all holiday traffic. But the nagging premonition of being stranded with a flat on a highway with four dogs saw me off instead to the nearest Les Schwab tire center Friday morning. Okay, the premonition was not so much some eerie extrasensory glimpse into the future as it was my low pressure sensor coming on suddenly last week, then going away, then coming back on again. Turns out, screw in a tire. Which sounds like some kinky sex thing, but not. Easily fixed and for no charge, thus all danger averted. And since I get obsessed with these fears, opted to purchase a new spare to replace the one that was punctured in April when I was rear-ended. That was not free. Yikes – big ass tires cost a lot, even single big-ass tires.

Still, thanks to the efficient folks at Les Schwab and the fact that I dragged myself there by 7:45 am, back at the house by 9 am to load up the rest of our stuff and get on the road by 10 am. I’d originally thought it might take six hours to get to Salem with the anticipated holiday traffic, but instead, it was clear sailing. Until Portland. This trip, I decided to be smart and go around Portland since it’s always hell getting through there, not realizing that the alternate took me by the airport. Anyway, bogged down pretty much from Portland to Salem. Nonetheless, the trip didn’t take as long as originally thought, so still a win, and that was with a stop for the dogs for a potty break.

Checked into our hotel room – extra special expensive this time due to the holiday weekend and some conference where people dressed up in what appeared to be their best  ’80s Sunday church-going outfits. Needless to say, pretty sure I was the only person there that had four dogs and looked disheveled all weekend.

Despite the hotel’s pride in the “recently renovated” rooms, our room still smelled like an armpit. I learned a long time ago, this is the price to be paid when traveling with dogs. Se la vie. I was able to ignore it most of the time and it wasn’t like we spent a lot of time there. At least it had a mini-fridge. These things are important when traveling with cheese and meats … for the dogs.

Oh, so yeah – the trial. Super laid back, one-ring CPE, only four classes each day. Which doesn’t totally explain why the trial ended at 6 pm on Saturday, but still fun.

007Typical agility trial set up and barn.

006Beautiful little hill of flowers for dogs to pee on.

005

Camm thought this one was pretty, but found out bees thought it was pretty too. Later Brady peed on it. Didn’t see any bees after that.

I was super happy with how all four dogs did, especially as this was only the second time we’d been to this trial site. But then, they did really well the first time there too last November. The only bummer about this site is that despite a big field, dogs can’t be off leash and run around and the small fenced paddock was always occupied and didn’t seem good for ball throwing for my crew. Nonetheless, JaYoBaCa were tired out.

0017 pm-ish and time for bed.

003

No room on the bed for the human that feeds them, takes them on fun adventures and purchases overpriced hotel rooms for them to sleep in after an exhausting day of waiting in the car and doing a few minutes of jumping, running through tunnels and climbing a-frames. Nope. So I read a book for a while before I forced them to move over and make room for me. I was very tired too and still managed to sleep with dogs on my legs, spooned against my back and on top of one of my pillows.

Jasmine was her usual steady self and managed to get qualifying scores on all of her runs except standard due to an off course tunnel entry. My favorite run with her for the weekend was in Jackpot where she did both distance challenges with enthusiasm. Also discovered after I added up points that she is closer to her CT-ATCH #3 than expected. As in one qualifying run away! I’ve said that I’ll retire her later this year and the idea was to retire her after she got CT-ATCH #3. The retirement is still happening, just not sure if I’ll run her in a few more CPE trials in the fall or not.

Youke had a good weekend too and for the most part was a little superstar, but was so not about weaves this weekend, Which means he blew his standard run on Saturday. Whatever. He did so well and worked with me so well on other stuff. He did get his standard run on Sunday. A bit ugly, but it was a difficult course with hard weave entries and other difficult approach angles and he was pretty smooth on it until the second weave pole approach. He also had an excellent Jackpot run on Sunday, getting both distance challenges and racking up points with that first run of the day enthusiasm.

Camm ended up being my surprise superstar this weekend. Cammi Neely Bean earned herself two titles and now gets to move up in levels in two classes, including standard. I ended up walking her off the course during Jackpot on Sunday because she was getting too amped and was about to spin out of control. Naturally she looked to the judge for help when “mean mommy” told her she was all done, but the judge smiled, looked at her and said “Your mom says you’re all done.”

Walking Camm off during those out of control moments has a profound effect. I’m not clear on her thought process – it doesn’t shut her down, more like a re-set button-  but whenever I have to do this, she comes back ready to work/play. Her three runs on Sunday after that were spectacular. She had one moment during standard where I thought she was going to lose it again, but after I told her to chill out and use her brain – yes, I actually say these things – when she started to get frantic about a weave approach, I could see her eyes start to go from a glaze back to sharp focus. Running a young dog can be so frustrating, but so fun and rewarding too. Someday, Camm and I are going to be awesome. A lot of work to do until that someday, but the progress made so far has been very cool. And she’s so freakin’ damn fast. So it’s a good thing our rear crosses have improved a lot.

Brady had the fewest runs over the weekend of all the dogs. Not due to his recent bite injury, but because he won’t do the teeter, which means we don’t do standard runs in CPE. But Brady knows how to make the most of any run. I had to scratch him from two recent NADAC trials, so he was stoked to be running agility again. I knew I was in trouble when on Saturday – first run of the day – he entered the barn screaming and bouncing. Bouncing Brady is Bad Brady. The less than 26-second run was awesome, until I had to send him to the table. In CPE, sending to the table stops the game. Brady hates the table.

The equation looks like this: Send to table = fun has ended = pissed off Brady = pissed off Brady tries to bite me.

Yes, I bear the brunt of Brady’s frustration with the table. So, although the run was probably more like under 20 seconds, getting Brady to the table results in an argument with me about actually getting on the table and stopping the time. The argument looks like frothing, barking Brady trying to take cheap shots at my ankles and pissy-faced me scolding him with a finger while simultaneously using that finger to try to send him to the table and hopping and dancing about to keep my ankles unscathed.

Most of Brady’s runs were awesome, but he was walking a fine line that he crossed on a run during Sunday. The run started off beautifully. Took a huge lateral lead-out to allow me to make a front cross at a jump. He read the line perfectly, I made the cross, he sailed out in front of me, but instead of taking the next line of jumps, went left. I can’t remember and truthfully, maybe something about the cross told him to go that way, although I don’t really think so. Regardless, he was furious and came in toward my legs with a cheap shot open mouth. I grabbed him by the shoulders, said “hey!” and informed him we were done right there in the middle of the course. Leashed him up and marched him briskly to the car without a word, made him hop in and then looked into his eyes and quietly told him he was being an ass – yes, I actually said this – then closed the door.

The end result was another profound change. During the following run, in which the handler has two options to choose from within two courses embedded within each other – a game called colors in CPE – I deliberately chose what appeared to be the more difficult of the two options. I knew Brady and I had the skills as a team, but also knew the sharp, nearly backward turn from out of the weaves could piss him off. I decided to go for it. It turned out to be my favorite run of the weekend. Thirteen seconds. I told him how awesome he was and he got to play tug madly with me after that run and was clearly pleased with himself.

Left Salem Sunday with four tired pups willing to sleep the entire four hours back home – yippee! – encountered not a single traffic back-up all the way home –  and thinking about what a fun weekend it was while mulling training opportunities.

No agility weekends for Jaz, Youke and Camm for a while. Did enter Brady in an upcoming trial to be held in a few weeks. I think he’ll like being the only dog. Hopefully, we’ll have our groove back then and he won’t be quite so frantic about being able to play agility again.

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