Wednesday, October 5, 2011

First AKC Agility Trial

Last weekend Leo got to run in his very first AKC agility trial. We were running at a new site and I had entered him in Standard and JWW Saturday and JWW Sunday. While I'm always hopeful for a positive outcome, my original pretense of entering him was to gain ring experience. Based upon our experience in August at the CPE trial we competed in (I haven't gotten that post on here yet.), I felt he needed that. He was too distracted and concerned versus focusing on me and his job in the ring. So I didn't go into this past weekend expecting to do more than work him.

The trial was in Prineville, Oregon and hosted by the Mt. Bachelor Kennel Club at the Crook County Fairgrounds. I was dropping the kids off with their dad on Friday night so got a late start even though I met him early. I was able to make it to Beaverton about 6 pm and headed east. The highways were pretty clear but the route through Portland and out of town going east on Highway 26 through Gresham was a nightmare. I easily spent an hour just trying to get out of Gresham and on toward Mt. Hood. It was 9:30 when I arrived at our hotel. Rachel and I were bunking together for the weekend with our gaggle of dogs so getting everything unloaded and everyone settled in was a bit of a challenge but we managed.

Saturday dawned a wee bit early but we headed off for the fairgrounds (a mere mile away) with the goal of being there about 6:45 am. I wish now I had stopped and taken a picture as I drove in. The one below doesn't do the sight justice - the sky was pink and blue mixed with streaky white clouds in the rising sun, and all this was right behind the arched entrance sign. It was stunning!
Crating was less than ideal but at least how it all worked out didn't involve a ton of traffic constantly going by our crates. We got all set up and then Leo got to wait and wait and wait. Classes were small to tall but organized in such a way that novice dogs wouldn't run until the latest point in the day, partially because there was only one judge (although two rings) and partially because they were running Fast and Time-to-Beat. I was able to get him measured by two VMOs so now a permanent height card can be issued. That was a relief. Leo measured a brief 8.5" at the withers.

When the time for us to run was nearing (close to 5 or 5:30 pm), I got Leo out and warmed him up over the practice jump. Oh boy was he hyped up! It was like he could just tell he got to play and was super excited about the prospect.

We were set to run JWW first followed by Standard. Our judge was Pamela Sturtz, a judge I hadn't run Vegas under before either. The course was nice and fair for baby dogs although I admit I did miss having a tunnel in there for him. You'll notice there was not a tunnel in JWW Sunday, either. Something I don't like to have for Vegas, but know is fun for Leo.
As I had said, my main goal was ring experience and I knew we were just "getting" weaves so I didn't have a ton of hope for a good run. If I'd had more time lately to keep up the blog about Leo's training it might make more sense to say where that came from and also where he's been lately. I ought naught have worried.  He got out there and acted like a pro. He didn't hesitate and no noise that may have occurred outside the ring seemed to register. He simply followed directions and ran. I was so pleased with him and having fun! I really am still learning how to handle him as my moves are so different than what I use for Vegas. The only issue we had were the weaves. We didn't quite get them and ran through our "three chances" and had to move on. All said and done, it was a great way to get started. Leo didn't hesitate, falter, or act afraid/concerned/fearful.
After the big dogs ran we moved straight over to the standard ring. I knew, knew the teeter would be an issue. Leo is afraid of it. I had hope to coax him over it but figured it would eat up a lot of time. Well, he had other ideas. Aside from the teeter, it was a nice run. He was moving and responsive from the start. He had a wide swing past the a-frame but I think that was from the burst of excitement when he dismounted the teeter and got to continue without me putting him back on. I guess that's where baby dog stuff comes into play...he doesn't know the difference between competition and practice yet. We nailed our weaves this time so that was definitely still a bonus. I was pleased.

So we ended our day without any Qs, but a lot of successes. Leo ran confidently, happily, responsively, and we had fairly clean runs aside from the missed weaves and teeter - the two things I knew we weren't really ready for. And, we improved on the weaves from the first to the second run, a matter of 35 or 45 minutes apart with out practice. That's notable, too, for a "baby" dog.

Leo's runs Sunday were a bit earlier, but not by a whole lot. We ran JWW only and did so right about 3 pm.  It was somewhat debatable that we'd be able to stick around for his run Sunday based upon the time it took to drive home and when we were done Saturday. It worked out and I'm glad it did.
And he qualified in this run with first place in the 8" jump class!!! I was so pleased with him. The SCT was 46 and his time was 36 and change. He even nailed the weaves the first time!

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