Sunday, June 15, 2014

Agility Dog

The journey with Sprout continues. So far, we've realized a lot of success, but are still working hard at becoming a true team. Sometimes we're in sync and it's poetry in motion. Other times, his overdrive is kicked on so high that it blinds him to my communication or I just can't quite manage to keep up so that things can get a bit hairy. Every trial experience gives me homework for us to work on. No matter what, I LOVE running this dog. The universe certainly bestowed me with a gift when he came into my life last summer.

As detailed in my last post, I started trialing Sprout in mid-March, beginning with a USDAA Intro Trial and then proceeding through a series of UKI trials, finishing his Beginner titles in that venue and now working toward completing his Novice titles. I like UKI for him for several reasons: he gets to jump 8" as his regular height and do a 5'3" AFrame; to keep things lite and fun, especially when first starting out, I could take a toy in the ring and run him NFC; I like the courses - they are international style and not as open as the lower levels in other venues.

We will continue with UKI, but having always been a USDAA person, I wanted to give that a try as well. In USDAA Sprout has to jump 12" in championship, which is what I normally jump him while training, but I was still on the fence about competing at that height. At the beginning of May I entered him in a USDAA trial for one day to see how he'd do. We ran 4 classes - jumpers, snooker, gamblers & standard - and Q'd in all except standard when he had a baby dog moment.

With that success under our belts, I decided to continue to pursue USDAA and run him 2 days each in a couple of trials in June. At the first trial, something was off with him during the first couple of runs as he was knocking bars - 3 in jumpers and then the 1st red in snooker, giving me my first ever 0 point snooker run experience. This had me rethinking jumping him at 12". But I gave him a long massage after our disastrous snooker run and didn't have any problems in the afternoon or the next day, so it was probably something muscular that needed to be worked out. I did feel like we were struggling as a team throughout this trial though; we just weren't in sync. The starters courses are so open, which can make running a tiny speed demon very challenging. We only came home with one Q, in standard, that first day. Things improved the next day where we Q'd in 3 of 4 runs. Here is our best run of the weekend - our first time running pairs where we ran the 2nd half. We purposely took a lot of time at the baton exchange since neither dog had ever run relay before, but I wasn't concerned with making time.

And here is our snooker run from Sunday. I was pretty pleased with this up until the off course jump after #5 in the close. And we hit 37 points right on the dot, so Q'd.

The following weekend I had entered him in the Friday and Saturday of a 3-day trial. This time we really felt like a team for the majority of our runs. We ended up Qing in 7 out of 8 and, on Saturday, finishing his Agility Dog title along with his Starters titles in Gamblers, Standard, Relay, and Snooker.  Here are a couple of his runs from Friday - a fast and pretty standard run and a speedy jumpers run.

And here is our last run of the day on Saturday (also our last run at the Starters level) - snooker.

Next weekend we have some UKI planned and then we'll have some time off to recoup and regroup. We definitely have some things to work on! Agility is always a journey in process.

Advanced classes here we come...

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