Monday, August 21, 2006

Ribbons aren't everything - but sometimes they help

Murphy and I were at the NADAC trial this weekend - getting up at 5:30 on Saturday and on the road by 6:00 was a tough shock to the body…Murphy's too. First class was jumpers, in NADAC there's no weaves - just jumps and FAST course times. We had a couple of bobbles but managed to pull a 3rd out of a class of 20+. Then we had touch and go - all tunnels and contact obstacles - what a rush. NADAC equipment is slightly different - no slats on the a-frame or dog walk. I thought the a-frame was going to be an issue - Does Murphy use the slats to go up or down on the contact obstacles? Turns out the answer was no. He didn't like the slatless dogwalk though - which is interesting. Cassy pointed out that the teeter never has slats…from a dog's perspective maybe the up portion of the dog walk looks like a teeter? I've never seen Murph think about bailing from a contact obstacle - he thought about ditching off the dogwalk in touch and go. Anyway, he made all of his contacts which was good enough for 2nd place (a LOT of dogs blew contacts).

Next two standard runs - back to back - instead of breaking down novice, setting up open, running open, breaking down open, setting up elite, running elite, breaking down elite and setting up novice again….The novice course stayed the same, we just ran it backwards the second time. Murph got all of his weave entries (yay) all of his contacts (yay) and both of the distance discriminations (handling several obstacles from behind a tape line). Both runs were nice, the second one was awesome - Murph saved my butt at one point and got a "whooooo" from the crowd (he liked that). We placed 3rd in both of the standard runs. So four ribbons and a long day...after his second run I found my water sandals and took him down to the river that runs through the grounds (from the top of mansfield - cold, clear, beautiful water - there was one spot that was chest-deep and I made Murph stand there for a little whil e until I was sure he was all cooled off and comfy - then I let him do some fishing :-)

On Sunday We slept in (relatively speaking), not leaving for the trial until 7! It was clear at home but as soon as I got into Stowe the rain started. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. First priority: Sure up the tent. I bought an ez-up on Friday instead of bringing my 12x17 camping tent. It's great in the sun - wrap some shade cloth around it and it's blissfully cool in there. In the rain though they tend to leak at the seams...so I took the "floor" and put it over the top - leaks stopped. Next to put tarps all the way around three of the sides - whew, we're dry - actually I was soaked, but because of the way my car is packed I had to unpack Murphy (in the way back of my wagon) - below him is my "permanent storage: extra jacket, a pair of jeans, a sweater, tarps, first aid kit, rain poncho, umbrella, etc - so out Murphy goes into his warm and dry crate (I had wrapped the floor tarp over and around it like giftwrapping), and I go back out to get my gear. Man! It was wet!

I watched the Elite and Open dogs very carefully to see how they handled the wet equipment (remember - no slats) - the fast dogs got into trouble, but the slow and thinking dogs did fine - Murph is neither fast nor slow - but I decided to run him in the standard runs anyway - let's see what he thinks - I trust him to tell me when something isn't OK. So we ran two standard runs back to back - both runs were outstanding - he really put down two very nice runs - we had one bobble on a "multidirectional tunnel" - I didn't know such a thing existed so when he went in the wrong end of the tunnel (or what I thought was wrong) I turned him around and sent him in the other way - which was good for a wrong course. Murph got his weave entries in both standard runs - and worked with me the whole time. I tried some things today - first was putting distance on our runs - Cassy had noted he seemed more confident when he was working further away from me (not a typical obedience dog). But, looking back on all of the bumps we've had along the way one of those was he didn't like being wrong - when he's working away he knows his job - when I try to help him he isn't as confident. So something to work on. Murphy took 4th in both of his standard runs (his classes were about 15-20 dogs so I'm happy with that).

We had good runs in jumpers and took 4th in that class as well. It was a pretty wild weavers run (just weaves and tunnels) again Murphy got all of his entries and put down a clean run - good enough for 2nd place. Then came tunnelers - for those who don't know this is a course of just tunnels - 8 of them to be exact for a total of 15 obstacles. Murphy is somewhat confused by tunnelers...he just doesn't understand why the next obstacle after a tunnel is another tunnel. My boy likes two things in agility - jumps and weaves - tunnels are fine - but they don't fire him up the way that jumps and fast running does - that and I have a lousy sense of where his point of committment is for a tunnel - in front of a jump it's about 10' away, for weaves about 5' contact obstacles about 5' - tunnels for him are probably about 3'. Note to self, need to increase his tunnel reinforcement history. We finished first in tunnelers - despite the fact that I no longer had any dry bits (parts) left. At one point I was caught mumbling to myself about wrinkled fingertips (bathtub fingers).

I've really got to say how proud I am of Murphy - I saw ZERO stress this weekend. I LOVE that. He had a blast in the sun and he had fun in the rain - he is really an adaptable fellow. We've never done a NADAC trial before - I entered the "costco" package - all 10 runs of the weekend - five runs a day. In AKC we run two runs a day - separated by sometimes 5-6 hours...In those same six hours he ran five times this weekend. I thought about "saving" him - scratching from this or that - but I got greedy and didn't scratch anything. I was watching him to make sure that he was willing and wanting to play and to his credit each and every time I pulled him out of his crate for a run he pottied quickly and got right down to business. He got all of his weave entries. In the weavers class he saw a 12 pole set of weaves - his first in competition - he stayed in the weaves for all 12 - both times. He held his startlines, and he sat at the startline the first time every run - none of the scratchies that we've been trying to work out. We (I) made some mistakes this weekend but we got over them in the moment - whoops, we missed that tunnel entry, lets go back and do it. There was no begging (me - shamelessly), there was no tagging or biting at my shoes (him) - we just ran.

So the ribbon count from the weekend, 10 classes, 9 placement ribbons:

Saturday:
Touch and Go: 2nd
Standard 1: 3rd
Jumpers: 4th
Standard 2: 3rd

Sunday:
Standard 1: 4th
Standard 2: 4th
Tunnelers: 1st
Weavers: 2nd
Jumpers: 4th

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