Jazz and I competed in the NADAC trial this past weekend at the Quad City Dog Center. That is such a great place to show! They keep the temperature at 69 degrees. Jazz loves that and I do too - no hot flashes at that temperature!
I think our first love is NADAC agility. I really like being able to compete hourly (approximately) for a whole day. We always enter all twelve events over two days and I think I learn more in a weekend at a NADAC trial than in two weeks of training. This is our first agility trial since Jazz has been eating Science Diet J/D food (that's joint diet for you young pups!) Anyway - I think he ran more smoothly and seemed to have more fun running than he has in recent months.
I believe this is the first competition of any kind that I can honestly say went wrong solely because of me. We started Saturday in chances. I gave him poor direction, he went over a wrong obstacle, and I was totally unable to figure out where we were supposed to go next! He gave me at least 10 seconds and then ran his own course. His was a nice course, but the judge failed to appreciate his creativity. We had the same problem in the regular run that came next. I just felt dumb and disconnected from the dog. We managed to qualify the second regular run with a sloppy five point qualifier, but it was our NADAC novice regular title! I love those purple qualifying ribbons!
We finally came together again as the day went on and I think the problem may have been speed. It felt like Jazz was running fast, then slow, then fast. I kept finding myself sprinting and then getting too far ahead of him. Very odd. He usually blasts off and runs like a nut for one run, then settles into his fairly slow lope.
Last run of the day was jumpers. We were waiting our turn as it began to thunder. Jazz is terrified of thunder. I used the wait time to pop a piece of cheese in his mouth and say Yay every time the thunder rumbled. It was still pretty distant, so he seemed OK with it. We ran such a nice jumpers run. He ignored the thunder, ran with me, and I even managed a front cross without anyone getting hurt! I was so happy with the whole thing. We failed to qualify by 1.05 seconds. Still a nice run for us.
We weren't out of the ring very long before the rain came pouring down. Well - not actually down - more like sideways. What a storm! Lights were flickering on and off and there were a good number of scared dogs. I think a few scared handlers as well. Luckily, we were pretty close to the end of the trial and the storm blew through and ended quickly.
Day two of the trial was lovely weather, happy dog, and handler with her brain turned back on. We managed to run a correct chances course, but knocked two bars. We competed in open regular for the first time and I love running more challenging courses. We had a nice tunnelers run that was 3 seconds too slow and a jumpers run with two front crosses, on time, and one dropped bar. It's always something. I am happy to say that we salvaged the day by qualifying in novice hoopers. It's a silly event, but novice is pretty easy and no jumping or great speed is required.
Peggy and Judy came to watch us for a while. It's so much fun to introduce people to a sport that I love. Judy was kind enough to take video for me, so I can see what went right and what went wrong. All in all a lovely weekend. I think I'll do it again in two weeks!
Lessons learned this weekend. Watch the dog. Run the course the way you know it should be run, instead of trying to play it safe. Watch the dog. DO NOT try to speed him up by telling him to hurry - he doesn't go faster, he just knocks down bars. Watch the dog. Jazz really responds well to lots of tiny treats, praise, petting and fussing at the end of a run.
Finally - watch the dog.