Saturday, October 16, 2010

USDAA Nationals Part 2

Once again, as with last year driving back, moms driving and I am bored so thought I would blog. Another nationals done with, well for Miller anyway. This was a tough nationals as it was miller’s last year to compete. I talked about it a little in the other blog post, but this really was the first year that Miller was not competitive and it kind of sucked. More and more Bcs in performance both in 22 inches and 16, which made it so hard for our older dogs to beat those blazing fast times. True that there were older dogs too but even on our best run of the weekend, we only got 14th place. I kind of dread being in championship in a way because we just won’t have a chance in hell of ever getting into any of the finals due to the fact that Deuce is just not fast enough. He has shown me some speed but not BC beating speed. I am a very competitive person so it will be a huge bitter pill to take but I am ready. I look forward to running Deuce at nationals because the mistakes that I made where due to lack of proper training in Miller in the beginning, before I knew what I was doing really. Miller has never had independent weaves so any movements I make tend to pull him out of the poles or push him out. I also don’t trust his poles and he knows that so he is always looking at me and I am always looking at him which tends to put me out of position at times. I know it bit me in the butt in standard and also in grand prix. Deuce doesn’t even know I exist when he is weaving and I LOVE that. He also doesn’t care where I am when he is doing contacts which would eliminate me having to do any weird crosses like I had to do in standard as well. I look to the future of my showing career and am very excited, can you tell?
Today we ran jumpers and that was it and boy was it a tricky course. I felt like we started out well but he popped out of the weave poles again, at the beginning of them. Someone said he slipped as he just skipped two poles but I am not sure what happened. I don’t think he was reacting to anything I was doing as we had just started and I don’t think the poles were rocking that hard. We finished the run well after I got him back in with a double front cross on the back line of the course and a rear to a blind (yeah my ass was running to get that one). Someone said I looked discombobulated but when I watched the tape, I don’t think it was that bad. We ended on a pretty good note (still on kind of a high from snooker last night) and I am overall happy with the way he ran. He is slowing down a tiny bit but when I run full out, he does too. He gave me 110% on every run and I can’t ask for more. I wish we had a veterans program in USDAA so I could continue to do USDAA with him but I am not sure how much longer I want to jump him at 22 inches. I love going to USDAA nationals, a lot more so than AKC nationals but I just don’t know if I want to do as much per day anymore, especially if I do keep him at 22 inches for a little while longer to finish his top title.
I will say that I did enjoy having the nationals in KY, mainly because it is so close and my friends are there so we can stay with them. I will say that we will probably rent an RV if we come back, even if it means driving two hours in an RV. It was tough getting up so early to beat the rush hour traffic and then sitting at the arena for hours with nothing really to do other than spend money. I think poor miller got super tired of being in his crate to as he did not want to go back in it several times and that is very unlike Miller. The 12 hour day was the worst and I NEVER want to have to do that again to him or me! I do feel like the facility needs to get a handle on the dust problem. Several days went by with the arena starting out muddy and then ending up a dust pit. I got a great pic of the dust one day as it was hazing the whole place up. I do like having the seating around the main rings so you can see versus Arizona where you have to sit on the ground or drag your chairs out and finals is very limited seating as well. I do like that the crating space was in the middle of the two arenas and within reasonable walking distance to both rings. I was fortunate that I did not have any walk-throughs that were back to back so I didn’t have to run back and forth from ring to ring since the rings were separated by the large crating area. I do know that next year, I will spend the money to have two crating spots with my teammate instead of sharing one. While we all fit, it was tight and if we both had big dogs, we wouldn’t have fit very well. Overall, other than the very long day, everything seemed to run pretty smoothly and I didn’t hear a lot of complaining. I think the atmosphere was lacking but it is hard to really have atmosphere inside. You can’t beat the scenery in AZ for sure and it was nice to be able to see the dock dog diving and lure coursing from the arenas and crating area. I will miss going to nationals next year but I just don’t think I want to do that to Miller again. Long days in a crate are just not kind to him. He will be 12 this year and I think it is time to start scaling back my expectations of what we are goin got do. I feel like he is still running great, but for how long, I don’t know. He has taken me to so many places I never thought I would be. He has shown me the correct and incorrect way to train an agility dog and he has made me a better agility handler. He is an honest dog and I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. While I want to strangle him sometimes and kick myself in my own ass at others, we have had one hell of an agility ride together and I look forward to starting the next journey with my baby. I am sure Miller will be whispering in his ear, “mom really likes it when you blow your dog walk contact”J

Friday, October 15, 2010

USDAA Nationals

Well another nationals is almost over for Miller and I and as usual, I am filled with lots of thoughts on many matters. I was really blessed this year to have a great teammate that is in it to have fun and just laughs off my mistakes and hers (although I have made more i think:) This is the first year I really feel like Miller just isn't competitive. The first year we came, Miller placed in all classes other than snooker in the top 10. This time it just is not so. I know he is slowing down but dang, the competition is getter better and better as more and more BCs move down from 26 inches. Lots of former world team dogs are moving down into the 22 and 16 inch performance classes and kicking our asses!

Our first run was European Standard on Tuesday and boy was it a fun, tough course and super TIGHT! I LOVE the european style course as they are challenging and bring forth skills that I don't normally use in AKC. Well, Miller ran beautifully but I front crossed too tight on a jump and basically blocked him from even taking it. I got him back, finished the course and was so proud of him and the way he ran. We had two runs on wednesday, Performance grand prix quarter finals and gamblers. Gamblers was a very unique gamble, with a 10 point distance bonus in the opening and then a box we had to stay in during the closing that would get us triple points for every obstacle we completed while in the box. The catch was we had to complete the gamble before the second buzzer went off so it was a gamble with distance and time. I had a plan to get in two a-frames and two tunnels and the teeter and then start a nice loop around with the teeter, a couple of jumps and the tunnel before heading out. I accidently got caught in a tunnel, nowhere where I needed to be and only got a couple of jumps and the tunnel before getting out. While we got a decent amount of points, the teeter would have helped us immensely in the points department. I truly felt good about the run though, he gave me 110% and ran fast and I just had him in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had Grand Prix quarter finals next so had to refocus. If you have never been to USDAA nationals (or haven't read my previous blogs), you walk courses in the morning and then you may not run for hours and hours later (like today). It takes a ton of mental fortitude to remember the courses and then bring the one to the front of your head that you need at that time. We have won our way into the semi finals twice so I felt good going into the quarters. Miller turned in a smoking clean run with a fourth place overall. He had a great dog walk contact and some nice tight turns. I was so proud of him for his run and excited to be in the semis again!

On thursday, I had team standard. I felt like the standard course was straight forward with one spot that I was a little concerned about due to miller's running a-frame and a big off-course jump right at the end. Joan talked me into doing a double front cross and it worked great. Unfortunately, Miller popped out of the weaves, and then missed the entry again before completing them successfully, but that gave our team two Rs. I felt like i let our team down as my teammate had a very fast clean run. The weave poles were rocking really bad, especially the second set but I hate making excuses for him. We had semi-finals next and I was a little worried as the course was HUGE! I knew Miller and I would have to run as fast as we could as they competition was very good and very fast. I was coming out of the weaves which was the third to last obstacle and because of standard was watching him weave and not paying attention to my position. I also think i was loosing oxygen to my brain because I was about to have a clean run. I ended up throwing him over the jump causing him to knock the bar. I felt horrible, I had let him down. I should not have been watching him weave, he knows his job and I should have trusted him. How many years have I been doing this? Anyway, I had some pity moments once again but then decided to just let it go. Even if we had been clean, we would not have made the finals due to his time. I think that would have really, really bummed me out. In the end, we went to church hill downs for the afternoon and did the walking tour and had a great time. I will try and post pictures when I get back.

Today we got to the show site at 6:45 and I didn't walk to 8:45 and did not run until 6:45 pm. It was the longest day of my agility life. I really felt like I was going to loose my mind:) I have never sat that long in my life. I watched hundreds upon hundreds of runs. I was mentally frazzled by the time I ran. I even changed my plan several times. Finally, when it was my turn to run, I laid down a smoking run and miller ran his heart out. I am so proud of this red boy! At 11 he can still kick butt! We got all four reds, two fives and a seven. Of the 100s of P22 inch dogs, he came in 14th place. Good boy MILLER! He ran tight and clean and listened to me so well. The only part he missed was the last seven, he ran around the second jump in the combo. I didn't care, he was awesome for having sat in the crate all day with a few walks and a bone to chew.

Tomorrow we have team jumpers and I am sure Jane and I will kick butt or at least have tons of fun doing so. I have enjoyed nationals thus far but am sad that this will be our last till Deuce gets us back in. I will have a wrap up blog and pictures in the next blog!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

USDAA nationals---Getting ready

Whew, starting to get a tad bit nervous about nationals and thought I should get my thoughts out and on paper so they will stop swirling around my head LOL! I have tried a different approach this year for nationals. I have given Miller some time off from training, just making sure is healthy and happy and stretched out. I hope this strategy pays off. This will be Miller's very last nationals and I have very high hopes. We did not qualify for steeplechase this year but I am okay with that. The competition is getting faster and younger in performance and while at the local level, he has a chance, at the national level, he is just too old and too slow. This will also be his last time USDAA show doing team. I have mixed emotions about team. While it is my favorite part of USDAA, it also has been the biggest thorn in my side. Broken promises and busted teams seemed to be the theme and I am hoping for better opportunities with Deuce since he will hopefully measure into 22 championship. Anyway, I digress:) Miller man has taken me to so many places and into so many people's lives that I otherwise wouldn't have been in so this is going to be a bittersweet nationals. I know I will be back with my deuce-do0 but who knows how long that will be. I would love to get into the finals this year for both team and for PGP but will still keep the goal of having a good time in the front of my mind. I have learned so much about myself at the nationals that Miller has taken me to and I will continue to learn. The biggest fun part of this nationals is I am actually getting to go home! I have put off going home for three years now because of my dog showing. Hell, I have put off having a family so that I could get miller's MACH (and I am dead serious when I say this). I can't wait to see my family and tony's family and to see some of my friends. It will be a quick visit (4 days) but it is better than nothing. I will maintain my blog and of course take lots of pictures when I go home and when I travel so look for those on here and on FB. I am leaving Deuce at home with his daddy and am really wishing I didn't have to but it will be nice to just have Miller and I at a show together for our last big hurrah. Good luck to all who are going to nationals and see ya there!