Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Universe is Cheering Me On

Before I left for the Quad Cities Tuesday night, I began setting up the mirror image of the Chances course posted on the Whatcom Agility Blog September 19th entry.  Since Belle and I are only five Chance Q's from our second NATCH, I thought this would be a good course to try.  (I did a mirror image of the course only because of where my dogwalk is currently situated.  No point in moving it any more often than I have to ;-)

I wasn't feeling very well due to a chronic lack of sleep--but I got a burst of energy after reading Cynthia Kennedy's article "NADAC:  What is the Distance Line?" in Dog Sport, August, 2010.  I don't subscribe to Dog Sport but this issue appeared in my mailbox Wednesday morning.  I think it was a thank you gift for my recent tunnel purchase from NTI.  (The sale price of the tunnel and the free shipping were really great.)

According to the article, one Q in a thousand is a bonus Q!  There is advice from three successful bonus line handlers regarding how to train for the bonus point distance.  For us, the most useful tip was to pick an arbitrary "bonus" line when trialing and practice handling at that distance.  As you become more adept at the distance thing, gradually move the line out until you get to the 15-point line.  (I kind of already knew that, but I've never done it at trial--only in training.)

The article energized me out of my sleep-deprived stupor, and I went outside to complete setting up the course.  Well, the bluebird of happiness was sitting on one of my jump standards singing his cheer, cheerful charmer song.  Then as I was completing my tweaking, a band began to play--I live down the street from the junior high.  Talk about getting a message from the universe to enjoy the day.

I was raring to run, but first I had to transport a rescue dog, so I was unable to try the course out until late afternoon.  I ran Dusty first, and he wasn't buying into playing Chances.  I put him back in the house and brought out Belle and gave the course a whirl.  The 1-4 sequence after the second tunnel proved to be quite a challenge for us.

Here are the clips of Belle running this course followed by clips of us working short segments of the course.

I gave my troubles with Dusty some thought, and decided to bring him out and just run this course as if it were a Regular course.  Just getting through a course without him barking at me is huge.  Since we were successful, I decided to try handling it as a Chances course.  Not too bad for a team that has only one Elite Chances Q.

P.S.  I was watching the video of Belle in slow motion today (03/20/11).   I can see that I failed to take smaller steps as I was moving toward the distance line on the viewer's left.  That left me with no option but to stop and depend upon the BIG ARM to push Belle out to the jumps.  Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't.  A much better option is to plan your path with the intention of remaining in motion.  It results in a clearer signals to the dog, plus it makes timing of cues much easier (at least for me).

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