Friday, February 20, 2009

Goals and Desires

Well, we begin trialling next month and I have a few goals for the upcoming year. The number one goal is, of course, to just enjoy doing agility with Ceilidh and Tucker. But we do have a few objectives that we would like to attain this year if all goes well. For Tucker, I'd like to get his Expert Bronze in Jumpers, Gamblers, Standard for his Bronze Versatility title. I'd also like to qualify for and place in Nationals in his height class. All of these goals are attainable for him since he is such a consistent dog. I hope the agility vacation we have taken over the winter will give him a little burst of energy.

For Ceilidh, my goals would be to get a Masters Q in any other event but Jumpers. I have the feeling once we get one the flood gates will open; I hope I am right about this. I would like to get one more Masters Jumpers Q as well which would give her the Expert Bronze title. I hope that this year she will also qualify for Nationals. It would be nice to compete at Nationals with her before she is a Veteran dog, although she is not showing any signs of slowing down yet so I may just leave her in Specials even after she turns seven.

But I guess we'll see soon how the season goes. Our first trial is at Morning Star in Kingston, Ontario, the weekend of 14/15 March. Hope we see you there!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2008 - The Year in Review

Well I haven't been very faithful in updating this blog. But here goes, the agility year in review. In May 2008, at Morning Star in Kingston, Tucker got his final Masters Gamblers for his Veterans Agility Trial Champion title. The Gamble was designed by Mike Bita and judged by Laurie Keith. It was 12 weaves with a flip out to a jump then out to a tunnel, finishing with another jump, the last three obstacles were layered with the weaves. I knew Tucker could do that gamble going into it, the question was would he pop the weaves. I held my breathe as he went in the weaves until the last pole was done. It was really exciting to get his VATChC since when I started trialling with Tucker I thought we would have difficulties even getting his SADC. Ceilidh who started trialling a year after Tucker actually got her SADC the day before him. Tucker always has been a good gamble dog as I can see him thinking about what I want him to do. Ceilidh was also entered in this gamble run; it was her first Masters Gamble and she actually got it but ran out of time heading for the last jump.
Tucker also qualified at Regionals to go to Nationals with four clean runs in Standards and Jumpers. He placed in every event and was 6th overall at Regionals amongst 6" Veterans. Ceilidh did much better this year at Regionals, she had 279 points up from 175 the year before. She had one very good Jumpers run but in her second Jumpers run, she seemed to be spooked by a dark purple tunnel. Luckily, you can only incur one refusal and one off course per obstacle but those 40 faults plus all the time faults gave us zero points for the run.
Ceilidh still had difficulties this past year popping weaves and missing contacts but we managed to get both her Advanced Standard title in Jul at The Agility Connection in Kingston and her Advanced Games Title at Hilltop in Williamstown in August. The Advanced Team run at Hilltop that gave us her Games title was just beautiful, both she and her partner had clean and extremely fast runs. I think we were more 20 seconds faster than the allotted course time. Ceilidh ran the first half of the course and was doing her happy dance and so wouldn't come into the box; not thinking I grabbed her and signalled my partner to go, afterwards the judge told me he had to award 5 faults because I touched Ceilidh outside the box. Thankfully, the time plus faults rule had been brought in for team and we still had a qualifying score. Ceilidh also ran a second Advanced Team at that trial and had another clean run and qualifying score which was her partner's Advanced Games title. Tucker and Ceilidh's last event at the Hilltop trial was a Masters Jumpers which they both ran clean, each getting a qualifying score. It was a great but exhausting way to end the trial as I ran those two Jumpers runs with only one dog between them. My legs were giving out by the last three jumps.
No review of the year would be complete without some news of how we did at Nationals. My goal with Tucker was to get one main Gamble. The first Gamble had no weaves or contacts so I thought it would be our best shot at getting a Gamble but it was not to be. I got Tucker out to the right tunnel mouth but couldn't keep him out to the third obstacle a jump. I was certain that the second Gamble would have either the teeter or weaves which would make it extremely difficult for us to get but it didn't, it had the A-frame. I got Tucker out over the first two jumps and put him in good position for the frame, then he scared me by just standing there and looking at the frame, then the little brain went into gear and I could see him say "Oh yeah, frame!" He did the frame and the next two jumps and was the first dog (but not the last) to actually get the Gamble in our group and he placed 8th in that event. Tucker also had four clean runs in the Jumpers and Standards runs and placed 15th overall out of 29 x 6" Veterans.
I had planned to semi-retire Tucker this year as I thought the Lifetime Achievement awards would be difficult to attain. However, with the addition of the Expert and Versatility titles, I think Tucker has a good chance for those titles. He has 6 qualifying scores in Team, Standard and Jumpers so getting four more in each shouldn't be too hard.
I'm hoping that 2009 will see good things for Ceilidh as well. I tried training in the ring with her the last time she missed a contact and she calmed right down and got back on the teeter and hit her spot. So hopefully, a Master Standard qualifying score will be in the cards for 2009. She is only one qualifying score from a Bronze Expert Masters Jumpers, her favourite event.