So last weekend (Friday night and Saturday) was the CAWA State Agility titles. For such a small state we had a good entry of over 500 runs across the two trials. Friday evening went well for me. I had Cypher in Open Jumping first up and he did a nice run for a 9th place out of 17 qualifiers. Next up I ran Dexter in Excellent Jumping, he dropped a couple of bars so we withdrew. Then I had Raven in Open Jumping – she was well on track for a placement when I stuffed her up not being certain enough with indicating a jump to do (already thinking about the tunnel after it!) and I caused her a refusal. Other than that it was a great run. Next was Raven in Masters Agility, I didn’t make my call sound firm enough or give it early enough for the seesaw and she came off it early. This was our only fault on a challenging course. Next up was Rumour in open jumping and she gave me a great run and handled everything really well. She liked the cool air I think! She ended up in around 12th spot. Next was Cypher in Masters Agility, I didn’t hold much hope as this course was tough for a boy who likes to pick his own way sometimes. However with much holding of contacts and keeping right on him the whole way round we made it home clear! That gave us our sixth masters pass in agility so one more to go for his ADM. He came in at 13th spot (which didn’t surprise me I handled very conservatively and with extra time on the contacts).
Next it was onto Masters Jumping and Open Agility. I ran Rumour first up in Open Agility and with one tiny blip she was happy and running on beautifully and we came in clear and seventh! Which meant she had made it into a final for Saturday afternoon, both her owner Andrea and I were very pleased. Raven was first up in Open Agility. We ran a cracker of a run and she held her contacts (she wasn’t feeling her usual self) and gave me time on the seesaw to get into a good position. We ended up winning the class and she had a spot in the final. Cypher was next in Masters Jumping, and I think I had a suspicion when I did my lead out that things would go pear shaped. He lay down and started being really interested in the grass in front of his paws. I tried to get him to sit but he just looked at me. I talked to him though to get his focus and when I had it I released him. We got halfway round the course and up to a box up the top of the course when he decided not to rear cross when I crossed behind him telling him “Turn” and ran out towards a tyre, a good 6 meters away. At which point I yelled “Come” and he kind of hesitated slightly and then literally looked like he thought “Ahh well I’m here now may as well do this tyre” and jumped through it! I didn’t yell or call him names or even stamp my feet. I stopped dead, looked at him and walked off towards the exit. I said thanks to the judge to let her know I was withdrawing and left with Cypher on lead with no tugging. We went just about straight from that ring into Open Agility where he was completely switched on and didn’t put a paw wrong and we came out and had the best tug game going. He went clear for a fifth place which put him in the final as well! Weird how these young male BC minds work I tell ya! Next was Raven in Masters Jumping, again we were going great guns and I failed to realise that a call was required to get her to take a jump. One of the few occasions when I should have *not* kept my mouth shut. She ran past it, we got a refusal and the rest was fine. *Sigh*
So at the end of the night Cypher had three passes, in both Opens and Masters Agility, Raven had a first in Open Agility and Rumour had two passes in both Opens plus a spot in a final! Very pleased also very proud of how Raven ran considering she was feeling somewhat distracted.
Why? Well Raven as you may have read before is an atopic dog. She sleeps with a bucket on at night and whenever we cannot watch her or have her in the same room as us. She has a special home made extenda-bucket which lengthens the depth of the bucket otherwise we find she can get round the normal size bucket. In a bid to find a better solution we ordered in two Bite-Not collars from the US. They came last week on Tuesday. We trialled the collar on her for 4 hours on Tuesday while we went out, Tuesday night, Wednesday, Wednesday night, Thursday during the day and it would seem that it was working. We knew if she wanted to she could still get to her tail but it seemed like she was not bothered enough by it to try. I was wrong. She spent all Thursday night and Friday morning chewing on her tail and I woke up to her on Friday morning with just this huge mass of hair all knotted up and chewed away from the skin and a sticky weeping, hotspot just about the length of her tail on the underside. I put her straight in the tub, clipped away the knotty hair and pyohexed it clean. Needless to say she was not too happy Friday night, but when we had our runs she forgot about her troubles for a while. It was still sticky on Saturday but I had kept it clean and she was on antibiotics for it, I knew it was starting to heal.
Saturday had more hard luck stories than I knew what to do with! First run up was Cypher and he was really switched on and we ran a nice smooth course for a clear round, our JDO2 and a seventh place which gave us a spot in the final. Next up was Dexter in Excellent Jumping and we made it through just about the whole course when he knocked the bar of the spread on the second last obstacle home. Bugger! It would have been fun to run him in the final! Next up was Raven in Masters Agility, it was a testing course and stuffed it near the beginning, think I took my eyes off her for half a millisecond and she was putting her paws on a wrong obstacle. From there she went into Open Jumping and I thought we had nailed this course but it seemed that I didn’t run on to finish strong enough because she did the last obstacle (the broad jump) and the judge was calling “Clear” when she looked across and saw the first plank of the broad had been tipped. Double Bugger!!! Next up was Rumour and she did a funny weird Rumour moment, she refused the first jump…she does that from time to time. We’re not sure why but Andrea said she was definitely feeling hormonal with a phantom pregnancy going on. Then I had Cypher in Masters Agility and this I handled even more conservatively than Friday night! This would have been his title pass! So we get to the end of the dogwalk, he is in his contact position four on the floor, I’m telling him to wait, we only have about 6 obstacles to go. I go over to the tunnel entry (there were three possible tunnel entries to take) I release him to the tunnel entry and he goes straight past it into the next tunnel entry….ARGH!!!! I could’ve cried! All the time holding the contact just so I can make doubly sure of the tunnel entry and we still get it wrong. Triple double bugger!
As a friend said “We need to put those moments in a ball and just throw it away!” She’s right but my problem is my ball isn’t big enough!!!
So onto the next two courses Open Agility and Masters Jumping. Cypher runs in Open Agility and does quite well but missed the distance challenge which I wasn’t too worried about, I worked his contacts really well and got some good weaving out of him. In Masters Jumping I again have a ball throwing moment when I just let go of Raven’s focus a touch too early releasing her into a wrong tunnel entry…everything else perfect and she hasn’t yet dropped a bar all weekend. *Sigh*. Cypher’s in Masters Jumping next and apparently I left my “Come” call way too late and he went into the *same* wrong tunnel entry. I’m absolutely convinced if I had run a third dog on that course I would have got it spot on! Then the last run before the finals was Raven in Open Agility. Virtually the last dog to compete. You know I wish I could just record some feelings and moods completely onto my ipod and just replay them back over me at trials, letting them wash into me so to speak. I went to that line with absolutely no expectations, she had qualified for the final already, she had won it last night and right then she felt a bit flat (no doubt due to the highly irritating hotspot) I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had knocked a couple of bars. I got on the line, judge said “Go when you’re ready” I lead out, turned back to her when I got to my spot and then just grinned for the sheer hell of it and released her and we were off. She again held her contacts and I ran like I meant it (which is not to say flat out fast as I could but with absolute determined purpose) and we finished clear and in second place. Our run from the night before was obviously better but I remember this one more simply because of that feeling I had before the run. I remember thinking as we finished and I ran back to the car with her to jackpot her that I really wish I could recreate that feeling every time I was on the line with her at a trial. I definitely will try, it will take complete practice and many, many repeated attempts but I’m sure I can get to that ‘place’ again in my head if I really tried. It shall be a goal of mine for the next couple of weekends and not one that I will necessarily talk about with others as I don’t think it needs voicing. Not sure if that makes any sense.
Anyway onto the afternoon’s finals – Cypher was first in Open Jumping, it was a nice course and a couple of our top dogs had run clear on it, there were no qualifying certificates to go for so I decided to run flat out with him and see where it got me. With it being the accepted understanding that all dogs run faster if you run with them I decided to try and push him a bit for speed. We were doing great until a slight miscommunication about a tunnel entry but other than that he was a good boy and quite switched on for a Saturday afternoon after so many runs. He responded well to the challenge of me handling him like he was a super fast dog and was not too far behind at all. He also did a great set of weaves facing straight into the sun so I was very pleased with that. Next final was the Open Agility – this got a bit tricky as I had Rumour, Raven and Cypher in it! With only 14 dogs in the whole class there wasn’t a lot of room to separate them with! Rumour went a bit funny on me again and refused the first jump. I started again because I don’t want her thinking she can bail on me like this and then go running to Mum or Dad for sooky hugs. We made it round to the weave poles where she shut down again so then we left, I put her lead back on and gave her quick rump massage (she loves it when I dig my fingers into her fur and give her good rub with my fingers). She didn’t think she was in trouble but she would have also noticed the absence of her jackpot at the end!
Raven was looking more flat than late morning by then (it was around 5pm – she’d been up since 6am and without a good night’s sleep!) so I wasn’t expecting her usual speed so I got a bit caught out when she hit the dogwalk and decided to blast through and do her usual speedy running contact! It caused us to have a very wide turn to the next jump and then the aframe which then flummoxed me enough to forget my plan and I moved in on her aframe contact way too much which caused us to stuff up the distance challenge part. She then dropped a couple of bars. We kept going though because I knew she was tired and pissed off and distracted and I didn’t want to add the downer of not finishing a course to her mood. She nailed the seesaw and did the last three jumps very nicely to finish the course. She got her treats and went back to the car pretty chuffed with herself. I didn’t disenchant her of this and told her she was a pretty fantastic dog who was an absolute star for me this weekend. So all in all the only real major bummer of the weekend was her tail and the fact that she was bothered by it bigtime. There was really only a few things I could do for her, make sure she got antibiotics into her for the pyoderma, keep the hotspot clean and when we were not out and about have her lie down with the desk fan on it cooling it off and drying it out and applying neocort cream. I was really impressed however with the fact that even feeling a bit flat she was still racking up very competitive times.
So it has totally dried out by now (Tuesday night) and she is not as bothered by it now as she was. It’s scabbing over nicely and there is no sign of infection. However the vet did end up clipping the hair off properly. I know these things heal better without any stupid hair sticking to them but I still think he went a bit OTT with the clipper. He left the white tip on but the rest is shaved virtually to the base. To be frank it looks ridiculous and I think (being totally anthropomorphic here probably) she is slightly embarrassed by it. Although it is healing and ok to touch now and you can handle the tail she still insists on wrapping it around her back legs (either left or right) and keeping it well and truly clamped to her butt. Poor little girl. It is going to take a while before it looks even slightly normal…and I doubt that will be by Nationals! I’d show pics of it but I have this vague sense of feeling like a betrayer to her if I did that…weird I know but she really does have an expression of horror on her face when she catches a glimpse of it in her peripheral vision. She even jumped slightly in fright once when it swung round on her. I think the sight was an unexpected one. She has started to wave it around a bit more lately as she felt better – she now employs it again in her bossing of Spryte and in the chasing away of the cat next door or any errant birds that happen to land in our backyard. So she is coming to grips with her near naked tail look. Either way I am grateful that it is something that is external and can heal relatively fast and she can still do everything she usually does. We leave in a few days now, still a heap to sort out and try and organise. Sounds like it is going to be huge – there are over 3,200 runs scheduled not including the finals and the teams events. This weekend coming up there is 600 runs Saturday and 800 runs Sunday. I like the sounds of those numbers. It means plenty of space between the dogs so I can really warm them up and cool them down properly. It will be great to catch up with all those from the last two nationals, I’m looking forward to getting my annual agility fix overload bigtime!