Friday I took Dancer and Rush to an AKC trial, where I had both of them entered in the 20″ Preferred class.
The huge big deal oh-my-god success was: Dancer did two teeters. The first one came in Excellent FAST where I asked for a-frame-to-teeter and she did it, after which I ran out of the ring with her and gave her a whole lot of chicken liver treats, also referred to as Poodle Crack (recipe here) in celebration. She liked that. The second teeter came in Open Standard, where she ran somewhat slowly and showed some signs of stress, did nice contacts, a nice teeter, a little hesitation at the double, calm table, a nice a-frame, clean weaves–and then went around the triple, which was the last obstacle, immediately following the closed chute, which always slows her down, so that she didn’t have much rhythm going into the triple… but I brought her around and she did take the triple. When I went to check the results, I was astonished to find out that she had in fact earned herself a Q in Open Standard Preferred, her third Q, and so she now had three more letters after her name: OAP.
I honestly wondered if we’d ever get there. It is made all the sweeter because she was one of only two dogs to Q in Open Standard. (153 yards, 73.87 seconds (SCT was 70 seconds), 5 faults for the refusal, 6 faults for the overtime, 89 points–it’s a dirty Q but it’s Dancer’s third Q and I’ll take it.)
The experience of running Rush is so different that it astonishes me. After I ran Dancer in Excellent FAST, I went to the Novice FAST ring to run Rush. It took a bit of planning to come up with a course that would allow me to Q even if I decided I needed to leave with him after the a-frame. In several trials he’s jumped the a-frame when it was in the first run of the day. I’ve been working in practice on making sure he’s wound up and then asking for the a-frame… but I didn’t want to be tempted to continue if he did it again, just to get the Q. My rule with Rush is: you jump the contact, we leave. (Note that I’d never do this with Dancer; she’d be deflated.) So my plan was to put the a-frame after the send, and after I’d earned all the points I’d need.
As I came to the line, I looked at the judge and said “take a deep breath” and then off we went. Three jumps to the send–tunnel-to-jump–no worries, then around to the teeter, again, no worries, then the weaves, then around again to the a-frame.
He came to a beautiful stop at the bottom of the a-frame and waited, quivering with impatience, as I desperately looked for a good line out of the ring and over the finish jump. I’d forgotten entirely to plan for when he did do the a-frame to my standards. Whoops! When I released him, he flew by me, and I ran as fast as I could for the finish jump, arriving just after the time buzzer. Q, 65 points, and blue.
He ran next in Novice Jumpers. Going in, he had two Qs in Novice Jumpers and I was hoping for the third. It was a course that was made for him, big swoopy lines, a tricky rear cross at the double (where the obvious handler line was flat across the take-off side of the double). Four jumps in a line at the end of the course. I thought it would run fast, but I’m still not quite used to the way Rush runs jumpers. 100 yards and he ran it a hair over 19 seconds. And that’s with the spin he put in before the last jump when I got too far behind for his training. The leash runner got caught up watching him and forgot to bring his leash over…. that was a small thrill for me; I love knowing people enjoy watching him run. Standard Course Time was 41 seconds…. Yes, he got the Q, but the spin meant a five-point fault, and he ended up second. Still, that’s his NJP title.
His Novice Standard run was a classic “almost” run. But for a premature exit out of the weaves (and only 6 poles at that!) and into a tunnel–thereby incurring a “failure to perform” fault, which makes a Q impossible–he ran very well for a young dog. His contacts were excellent; he did a nice down on the table the first time I asked; his second pass through the weaves was lovely. He was focused and doing his best to please.