Saturday, March 31, 2012

Updated USDAA Nationals page

Everybody has to eat right?  Once of my challenges while on the road with my dogs is finding a great place to eat.  I will probably update this info as I remember all the great little restaurants we have tried.  I have also included comments about the availability of shade parking for the pups.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reaching a Milestone

My family and I went down to New Mexico for SWAT's USDAA trial. It was a fun trial. Nice and relaxed, great courses, and the weather was perfect.

One of the reasons to do the trial was to get Tip and/or Split more tournament Q's for Nationals. I was running Tangle too, but at this point it is about experience and mileage.

This trial was Tangle's first outdoor trial and one of the few times he had done agility outside other than my yard. I had to chuckle a little when I thought about this since Tip and Split had rarely practiced inside by the time they started to trial. Kind of a testimony on how much agility has changed and grown.

So, since this was one of his first outdoor trials I was ready for almost any reaction thrown my way. I had no idea if the environment would be more or less stimulating, if wind or heat would be a problem. Or if Tangle would just go with the flow and run well.

Tangle's first run of the weekend was Gamblers. Always a plus for me since almost anything goes and I can run a course that will warm him up for the day. He did a great job, didn't seem too stressed by the change of environment or even by the fact that the rest of the family was there.

Next we had Grand Prix.
It always seems like a fine idea at sign up time to sign all three dogs up for the same Tournament class. Then when I start looking at reality of the runs I begin to pick up on a couple of flaws in my thinking. I have to walk the course for three very different dogs, warm up the dogs, align people to hold the dogs while I run one--since, of course there is only about 8 dogs in-between my runs sometimes. The main problem really is that I find it really hard to be "present" for each dog and run. Anyway, made my bed…

Although I ran the other two dogs in Grand Prix, the real milestone was in Tangle's Grand Prix run. This course had some great sections and some subtle nasty spots. The one advantage about running multiple dogs on the same course is that you have multiple chances to beat the same course.  If you don't like the way that you hangled a section you can elect to change it with the next dog.
Tangle ran the course like a champ. Although we encountered several things on the course that either we had only practiced a couple of times (discrimination's) or had not worked at all. Because Tangle's foundation
is so strong I had more confidence in how he would handle the course.
Tangle came in second place in Grand Prix. The milestone was not the placement for us, and not the Q, but was that his speed and confidence had improved so much in such a little time that he was fast enough to get
second place. That is something we have been working on a ton. It was great affirmation that the speed and confidence training that we have been working on was effective!