This is Eli, who is a really nice Sheltie. I included his photo just because I think he is cool.
Here's Cooper back in his crate under the trees and far from the madding crowd. He has his gel-filled cooling mat and a silver shade cloth for his in-between-runs downtime. Lots of that at trials! Saturday we were there over 8 hours and had two runs lasting less than 40 seconds each...this is a great venue. There's a pretty trail running along a big wide river, great for taking little walks and cool-off breaks.
Also poop breaks. Especially early in the morning when people are setting up, sgning in and figuring when they're going to run there's quite the preoccupation with pooping. All over the grounds people are walking their dogs, plastic poop bags fluttering, cooing "you need to potty? Let's go potty. C'mon...oh GOOD boy!" Because you see, pottying of any sort in the ring is an immediate disqualification and out you go. And if your dog is preoccupied with holding it, then he might not run as well. Of course that's always a good excuse for your dog slacking off in the ring. "Well, he didn't have breakfast, but maybe I overdid the treats last night...he had soft stool when we got here this morning. Kind of yellow. So I think he's got an upset tummy, he usually doesn't blow the weaves like that..."
Many people don't give their dog breakfast before a trial (I don't) in hopes they'll be fooled into thinking they might just get treat rewards in the ring, although that's expressly forbidden. You can't even have treat crumbs in your pocket, really. Not only could it be a covert lure for the dog, but I suppose random food molecules in the ring is a distraction.
Well, we had fun at our first AKC trial, but no Qs....happens to plenty of experienced teams, and since I had no real goal - unlike seriously hoping for our last AG2 leg in UKC - I was OK with it. There's a few different rules, too. We had three great runs and one train wreck. We're running Novice since this is our first AKC trial.
1: Jumpers with weaves. That's all jumps, with one set of 6 weave poles, very fast. Only one team out of the entire class Q'd and we weren't them! It was funky though - the first jump was the tire, then the dog immediately went to weaves. Dogs don't want to do the stupid weaves, they want to run and jump! We blew the weaves like just about everyone else, but did all the jumps perfectly.
2: Standard. Very nice, very fast. But. Missed the contact on the stupid A-frame - the dog is supposed to have paws on the "contact zone" at the bottom of the contact obstacles; big fast dogs are more likely to fly off the top. Oh well. Otherwise it was nice and fast.
3: Sunday Jumpers with weaves. Beautiful weaves, yay! And a nice run except he knocked a bar which is an automatic NQ. Another challenge for a large fast dog - a triple jump, followed by a sharp right turn and immediate jump. He knocked the bar at that jump, it's hard for him to get the right angle, remember we are going full out speed. I'm sure there's a way for me to help him get that right, but I don't know it (yet.) Note to self, ask one of my instructors.
4: Standard again. One of Cooper's WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! stupid runs, which I am noticing he tends to do at the end of a trial weekend. I don't know if it's pent-up energy and he needs a bucket of downers, or it's like a toddler getting overtired, I wish I knew. He gets utterly silly and sloppy (although does every obstacle, just badly), bounces, barks, has a wonderful time and gets lots of laughs. Sigh.
We knocked the bar at the second jump and he was barking so I knew it would just go downhill from there. Now, I could - maybe should - have taken him by the collar and led him right out of the ring: we're not here to play, we are here to work, so fun's over. But you know, he was just so damn happy I figured what the hell, let him have at it. He turbo-launched over every contact zone, blasted over jumps, nearly demolished the teeter, plowed through the weaves sideways, and blasted through two tunnels three times (wheeeee, we love tunnels. Sigh.)
He got a big laugh, barked and bounced and I know it was totally the wrong thing to do but I didn't correct any of it because he was just so freakin' ebullient.
run was 38 seconds, which gives you an idea how fast these things go.
I certainly picked a challenging dog to learn with. He is fast, has incredible drive, is very smart and demands a lot of me - if I don't give him clear direction he sure lets me know. Actually, the fourth photo down in my July 27 post clearly shows Cooper yelling at me by bouncing and barking. He is quite clearly demanding to know where to go next; I've apparently been too slow for him. Again.
I want one of those smaller, slower dogs next.
I know I'm babbling on, I think it might be funny to look back on some of my agility posts one day when I actually know what I'm doing. And have a smaller, slower dog.
The trial photographer got some excellent action shots, $5.00 per jpeg with permission to print it out. Here's her website.
At least we've never pooped in the ring. (Well, the dog never has and I certainly wouldn't ever!)