Washington State Obedience Training Club
Auburn, Wa., July 9,10, 2004
600 runs per day, two rings, outdoors on Grass. Judges Arlyn Sigeti, Lynn Dahl
The courses this weekend were the most difficult and challenging courses by far that I have seen in one year of competition in the AKC. This is an opinion of almost everyone who competed on these courses. That being said, the courses tested every skill you had in order to get through them successfully. Although the Q rate on a couple of the courses was low, there wasn't too much grumbling about them after everyone had finished their runs. It was "challenging".
The really good part is Al took everything these judges could do to try and make the dogs fail the course, and he still did very, very well.
And he earned his AX title for Excellent A Standard 12" with a beautiful run!!
Al is now officially Willowmere's Jazzman D'Laviere AX, AXJ
Standard Course 1 Excellent A
When I arrived Saturday morning at 7:30 and looked out over the Standard course which I was about to walk, I couldn't believe it. The course looked like a yard sale for Agility equipment. I also suspected that the judge had something against grass as it looked like every possible square inch of grass that could be legally covered by equipment, had been. Then the morning became more dismal as I grabbed a course map and looked at the required route through this impenetrable maze. We were doomed. I was hopeful that Al might get the final leg of his Excellent A title this weekend, but after seeing the course I gave up on that idea and thought of how I could make this a good experience for us both. My conclusion after walking the course was that it would be virtually impossible to Q on this course, so I decided that the best thing for me to do was to treat it as a learning experience for Al, and if he blew off the stay at the start line, I was going to pick him up and he would get a hard lesson on the rules of our game.
When we got to the start line Al started to tug at the leash, then he sat (Good Boy), but when I took off the leash he broke from his sit, and moved fairly quickly to the side and towards the start line sniffing at something. I grabbed him and picked him up and should have stuck to my plan to walk off the course, but I didn't and now I am very glad that I didn't because I carried him back to the start line, and we did a drop and run start again. This prevented me from doing a front cross that I had planned in my virtual walk through and after a rear cross after jump 3 we were back on the plan, and up and over the A Frame. Then it was a tight 189 degree turn after a jump and right into the weave poles. Most dogs missed the entry as they couldn't make the turn. I wondered along with others if this was even a legal sequence. Al did great weave poles and then a jump and landed looking right at the Dog Walk, but I called him and he stayed on course to run hard over a jump and up the teeter almost to the contact zone. He ran off the Teeter and Al was looking right at two ends of a tunnel which were set there as an off course trap. Let's see what is more fun for a dog; running through a tunnel or having to sit or worse down on a table. A lot of dogs headed for the tunnel, but Al stayed with me and ran up onto the table where he had to do a down. When you look at the video you will see Al in his down position that the Weekend before had taken the Judge 10 seconds at least to start counting. I'd like to hear from anyone who thinks that this isn't an almost perfect down. This judge started counting when his elbows hit the table and we were off in good time. At this point I was thinking how incredible it was that we were still clean, because all the big dogs had already run, with very few Qs and perhaps 2 16 inch dogs had Q'd. We were still clean!!
On to the rest of the course. Off the table, over a jump with good speed, through the tire and Al avoided another off course trap that had been set right in front of the tire landing zone. I called his name and he stayed with me and it was onto the Dog Walk which he ran over and hit the contacts running. After the Dog walk there was another trap jump which he avoided, Al stayed on course and ran hard to the next jump and got ahead of me. At this point I had intended to do a front cross, but it was impossible because he was ahead of me so I sent him into the chute and did a rear cross. Al cooperated after having to spin to check in with me on the next task, and then he roared through the chute too!! When he emerged from the Chute, there was an off course tunnel staring right at him but he incredibly stayed with me again, and we were on our way home. Two jumps and then a Tunnel entry that got any dog that ran with any speed. On the last jump, the dog would land about 5 feet from wrong end of the final tunnel, and you had to get them past it into the opposite end about 10 feet away. I did everything right and Al cleared the jump, landed, was looking at the wrong end and the end of our clean run, and he started to turn towards me waiting for the next instruction. He was nose past the wrong course tunnel entry and about 18" to the left of it, and I said "Tunnel". At this point Al thought I meant the end of the tunnel that he was running past, because it's right there. (Oh, Oh, I better turn really hard and get in the tunnel because Dad says) Al went in the wrong end, and ran really hard through the tunnel and jumped up almost into my arms when he came out the other end.
I love this little man. He did an incredible job on an impossibly difficult course. If I had said tunnel 1 foot later than I did, he would have had a clean run and his AX title. It wasn't meant to be, but we had compliments all weekend long about his run from just about everybody there. Al earned his title this day, but didn't get it.
JWW Course 1 Excellent B
This was a tough course because it had a short pinwheel sequence before the weave poles and the last jump of the sequence was almost past the weave pole entry. I focused on how to get Al into the poles and didn't get a lot of time to walk the course because the judge shortchanged us on the walk through. Anyway between jump 6 and 7 I wanted to do a front cross, but Al was faster than I thought, so I started to do the Front Cross late and had to stop it before I hurt him. Then I got lost/disoriented. The instant I lost focus we were lost. I decided to do the course like it should have been designed and headed for the weave poles and missed jumps 7,8,9, on the way. Oh well!! Al ran great from the weave poles on and really enjoyed the run although he wondered why the crowd was absolutely silent again. I was pretty disappoint about getting lost, but it hasn't happened very often lately, and Al did run hard through the last half of the course.
Standard Course 2 Excellent A
After the Mental Lapse on the JWW course I wanted to have a better day. It had rained hard overnight, and the table was wet, and it was 8:00 AM and Al was dog #20 to run. It was a tricky course and had a hard weave pole entry right after the A Frame. I decided the only way to get the weave poles was to get Al in line with them after the contact and then do a front cross and let him do his job.
Al sat at the start line, and I actually got about 3 - 4 feet as a lead out. YaHoo!! Al ran hard off the start and after jump 2 he was looking at the first trap which was an off course jump, but he went in the tunnel, and then we were off. He was pretty enthusiastic and happy. He got his contact on the A Frame and then the Front Cross before the poles worked really well and he did pretty fast Weave Poles for us. Then it was off to the part that I thought would get us. 180 degrees to Two jumps, a hard left turn that forced the handler to avoid running through the weave poles because it was right in a straight line between the two jumps that were in the sequence. Just to make it almost impossible the Judge added an off course A frame right as the dogs made the turn to the jump on the other side of the poles. Everybody thought it was pretty dirty. Anyway, I called Al's name and he paid attention and avoided the A Frame Trap and did the Jump!! Yahoo!! I love you Al!!
On to the next jump, and then a hard left again with an off course jump just to make sure that you don't run clean. Al paid attention again and turned really hard to get to the Dog Walk. He got his contact, and then it was on to the wet cold table. He got down, but it wasn't perfect, and the Judge counted when she thought he was as low as he could be expected to go on a cold wet table. On to the Teeter, another jump, and another one that I didn't work hard enough, so Al almost cut it short, but he responded, and then it was a hard turn and two more jumps to the finish line.
Al Did it!!! We had a clean run!! He was so excited!! Al after a lot of good runs, finally got his AX (Agility Excellent) Title. He was very proud of himself and knew from the instant that the run was over that he had done something really good. I was afraid the judge was going to fault us for not having the dog under control when you left the ring because she had done it to my instructors husband the day before. That was a tough course and Al mastered it.
The SCT (standard course time) was 75 seconds (175 yds.). Al's time was 56.93 seconds, giving him a First place finish. Of all the Excellent A dogs of all heights only Al and an 8" dog had Qualifying scores. Al's time was 11 seconds faster than the other dog and was 18 seconds below course time.
Maybe I should give Al the nickname "First or Last" because he finished first in all of his qualifying runs for both his AX and AXJ titles.
JWW Course 2 Excellent B
The day was over as far as I was concerned because Al had accomplished what I hoped would happen. But we still had one more run. I think the events of the day, the stress of the weekend, and all the excitement caught up to him on the final run of the weekend. He sat for me at the start line, but he wasn't full of much drive. I couldn't get him to get into it at his usual level of enthusiasm. Actually, He hadn't had a poo all day that I had seen, and I watch him closely on days we compete, and I think because of that he didn't get a lot of rest between runs because I was always taking him out to try and have a poo, because my big fear is having him do it in the ring.
On this course he was hopping over the jumps because he wasn't running hard. We were getting through OK but after the weave poles there were 5 jumps in a sequence that I slowed Al down in. He had to spin because he was waiting for me. After the sequence was over, Al landed after a jump and put his nose down and started sniffing and really tried to find something. It was either food of some sort or he had to go poo. Anyway, he really got into it. I couldn't get him back, but I knew he had no faults yet as this wasn't a refusal. After 16 seconds he realized that there was fun to be had, and we went on to finish the remainder of the course. Al had a clean run. He had a time of 54.96 seconds. The SCT was 42 , so he would have had a Q if he hadn't messed around, as his time should have been about 38 seconds.