It's odd for me to have 6 weeks+ off between trials. I'm glad I entered the New Years trial though, 2 full months is a long time. I did a much better job this past year of not entering too many trials - I stick to 1 or 2 a month, and if I end up with more I usually take longer off afterwards. I only went to about 8 or 10 AKC trials all year, and my dogs did fabulous at the lower jump heights. I don't know about other areas of the country, but around here the spacing in AKC courses just doesn't lend itself well to the larger dogs. Some judges are fine, but I have to say the majority of courses are not geared towards large dogs who need TIME to judge their takeoff point for big jumps. Sure, some BC's, hopefully Seri included, will do fine with even spacing on tight turns with funky traps, but Drifter needs to judge where he's going. And even though AKC is supposed to be a minimum of 18' between jumps, most courses around here appear to be tighter than that. I'd say they must be wheeling wide corners on curves where dogs aren't actually going wide or something similar. Even straight lines must be pushing it distance-wise, those are often the toughest part for Drifter as the spacing is tough for him. He knocks many less bars at USDAA where the spacing is much more variable but somehow just works out better for him. And contrary to some people's beliefs, I think both venues have plenty of challenge to their courses, it's just different challenges. USDAA is challenging due to its speed changes, technical sections mixed in with fast sections - AKC is a more evenly paced, without the whacky speed changes, but the spacing makes the jumps harder, in my opinion.
Some people have dogs who just keep bars up no matter what. I am not one of those people. And I think some of those people don't even realize how lucky they are. (Some do!)
Anyway, I am home again this weekend. I haven't been able to get myself back into the rhythm of long hikes (it's been really cold! and I'm just feeling lazy!) but I have been taking the dogs to the local reservoir park for a 30 minute run on a nice hilly session. This is actually pretty darn good exercise as they get to go up and down hills at a moderate run. (I don't allow crazy greyhound sprinting because I want them to not get hurt, and I want them within sight in case we encounter a hiker). Wednesday between classes at the indoor I trained Drifter and Kiba on courses for the first time since we got back from Arizona. They both did great although Kiba was pushing her dogwalk contact a bit much. Seri is looking fabulous as well. I am hopeful that she will get a Team Q out of the way on New Years. And I'm also hopeful that 2010 will be a good year for getting her Q's for AKC, which will require more consistency from her.
USDAA is still frustrating as far as organizations go. Last year I and many others raised a bit of a stink about getting the national event moved east of AZ (look at a map, AZ is pretty damn far west in the country). It's been there since 2004, which means 6 years in a row we've been driving or flying across the country. Well USDAA waffled a bit last fall and then gave up and went back to AZ for this year. This year they announced that it would be moving, but they didn't have a site finalized yet. Now. . . it's still not finalized. They have possible dates and possible sites, but those of us who have spent thousands of dollars for six years running are starting to worry. This is awfully close, isn't it? AKC seems to have everything organized over a year ahead of time, and they move every year. Perhaps USDAA needs more office staff? Or a way to generate more profit so they can afford such? I don't know what the answer is, but we shouldn't be left hanging months and months into the qualifying period, and since we are hanging, a bit of transparency wouldn't hurt. Just a note, now and then, to let us know they're truly working on it. Because while I will have a really difficult time staying home from the event, if it returns to Arizona, I will do it. Even though I have THREE dogs who are more than capable of making the Finals in all 3 events, and 2 of them are fast enough to win individually as well... but for me, who works a 40-hour a week full-time regular job that doesn't pay all that much, to pay thousands of dollars every year to attend is just ridiculous. People in the west have had a easy time of attending for a long time now. A whole generation of eastern seaboard dogs have either had to travel far or not been able to attend.
I didn't actually intend for this post to be a rant about that, but the situation really gets my feelings up. This is just not a fair situation that has gone on for so long, and up until this last year we didn't really get any impression that USDAA was even trying to move the event. SIX years? That's no accident. They just weren't taking into account how difficult it is financially for some of us to get out there. I have no sponsor, I don't make millions, and it's hard to fly multiple dogs.
The other thing that is already making me a little nervous is that sure, I am on the list of top IFCS point winners, but they still have not extended formal invitations! I paid several hundred dollars for passport, titers, etc, I'm trying to make travel plans already, and yet they haven't *actually* told me I'm on the team! How crazy is that? We leave in FIVE months!!!!
This post is very scattered! Stream of consciousness, sorry. Deal. So I'm very happy to be on the team, it will be very cool to travel in the UK. Hopefully USDAA will soon step up and tell us what's what.
Here's a picture.
Doesn't that lush grass just look *wonderful*? Sure it doesn't rain. That's why the footing makes all of our dog's backs hurt every year: there's no padding! This is from 2008 but it was pretty much the same this year.