Monday, May 18, 2009

Now All I Can Do is Sit and Wait . . .

I'm not very good at waiting, so this is going to be a LONG 2 months. Ugh. I competed at our last ASCA obedience trial this past weekend, and my Conor didn't let me down. First I have to mention that this was a very competitive Novice B group this weekend, as everyone did really well. Conor was the first dog in the group, so I had a very long wait to find out how we actually did. The group finally finished up by around 9:45 p.m. with all but one dog qualifying (a little Dachshund just couldn't handle the sits & downs). As we all headed back into the ring to get our ribbons, I had to keep reminding myself that it's the score, not the placement, that matters. All I wanted was something over 195, which I felt we had. But as the judge called out dog #8 for 1st Place, I was SHOCKED!!! That was my little Conor!! Woooo hooooo!!! And even better was our score of 196! YAY!!!! We finally broke that 193 streak. I don't really remember much more after that, as I had been in an obedience seminar all day long, and right after that I headed straight to the trial. I didn't even have a chance to have dinner, so not only was I tired, I was extremely hungry. Then came time to award the other special awards. My friend Leslie finally finished her UDX, and once again got High in Trial, High Combined and High Score - Other Breed. Then Conor was called into the ring for winning High Score - Australian Shepherd. YAY!!! Kaylie also did very well Saturday night in Utility. She had completed every exercise - up until the directed jumping. As we got set up to do the go out, a huge bird landed just outside the ring. Kaylie's eyes just lit up and were as huge as baseballs. Kaylie loves to chase birds. Many times on our walks around the neighborhood, we'll come across a huge flock of birds eating bird seed that someone leaves on the sidewalk. I always take her off leash and let her go chase the birds. When I saw that bird, I thought this could either go really well, or go really bad. Of course, it went really bad. On the first go-out, she ran half way down the ring, turned around to look at me and then took the high jump. BUMMER!!! As we got set up for the next go-out, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I was telling her to go get the bird. She was so excited when I told her to go, she just bounded out there, took the jump on the way out and was bouncing and barking all around the ring, looking at the bird - I actually thought she was going to jump over the baby gates to go get the bird. Luckily she didn't do that. I was laughing though, and the judge didn't quite understand why I could take things so lightly and wasn't more upset with not qualifying. I thought it was rather funny seeing my little clown girl just having a great time running and bouncing around an obedience ring. Obedience people are just too uptight.
Sunday night went well, but not quite as well. Conor had a couple of crooked sits and lagged a little on his figure 8, so once again we got our favorite score of 193. He ended up getting 2nd Place this time, but still won the High Score - Aussie award. Kaylie's Utility run didn't really go all that well though. She missed the sit signal, she got one of the wrong articles, she didn't go out on the first command to get the glove, and of course the go-outs just didn't happen. She still worked well though, despite making mistakes. I figure as long as she's having fun and not dragging like a lot of the Utility dogs, we're good. Even this judge commented on how well she works and is such a joy to watch because she does show with such enthusiasm. I'll take the mistakes Kaylie makes over a dog who begrudgingly does the exercises correctly.

Now I have to wait until July 15 to see if we made it into the Nationals Finals. I figure we did as well as we could do, so now it's in the paws of the other dogs around the country. One great thing though is I learned a ton of new stuff at an obedience seminar this past weekend, so I'll be using these new techniques all through the summer to improve on our skills, and to get Kaylie ready to compete in Utility and Conor ready for Open at the Nationals. And if Conor makes it into Finals, we'll be so ready to take on the competition with my new found knowledge.

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Kaylie - The True Wonder Dog

At our last DOCNA (Dogs on Course in North America) agility trial in Prescott, Kaylie did fantastic! We are trying to be the first team to earn the MEX (Merit of Excellence) who started in the Beginner level. We are getting VERY close. All the other teams that have earned the MEX were grandfathered in at higher levels. Kaylie was just starting her agility career when DOCNA was created, so we had no choice but to start at the beginning. And as it is, I believe there are under 20 teams that have even earned the MEX to this point.

Well, going into the trial at Prescott, we needed 2 Specialist Gamblers legs and 2 Specialist Standard legs. In DOCNA, there are two types of Gamblers runs -- Traditional and Strategic Timed Gamblers. Unfortunately, we have only earned 3 Traditional Gamblers legs -- one from the Beginner class, one from the Intern class and one from the Specialist class. All the other Gamblers legs have come from the Strategic Time Gamblers. So, I knew going in that the chance of getting that Traditional Gamblers leg on Saturday was slim. We walked into the ring, and I knew Kaylie was on fire and ready to go. The Gamblers class is usually the first class of the trial, and Kaylie is usually absolutely wild in the first run. Well, this was no different. She was incredibly fast, and I was not -- I kept getting in her way, and things just fell apart. At 30 seconds, the buzzer rang, which meant I had to get to the gamble portion of the course. I sent her over the jump to the tunnel -- she took the wrong end of the tunnel, then came right back to me over the wrong jump and that was the end of that. No MEX for us this weekend. BUT, she did qualify in the two Standard runs she needed, getting First place both times, and she got her Strategic Timed Gamblers leg on Sunday, earning a Second place. Wooo hooo Kaylie!!! Out of 10 runs over the weekend, we qualified in 8 of them, placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd in all but one run -- our Jumpers run on Sunday. I got lost on the course and just got confused. Luckily, Kaylie can read the numbers on the cones (that's the only explanation I can come up with) because she ran the right course despite my mess ups! Hence the name "Wonder Dog." So we still Q'd, but got 6th place. Still, not too bad!!

So, our next DOCNA trial will be in Pinetop the end of August. Hopefully we'll get our MEX there! Just one Gambler leg to go.