DIGS NADAC Trial - Apr 23-24, 2005

26 Apr 2005Steve Schwarz

Dogs In Great Shape (DIGS) hosted a two day NADAC agility trial this past weekend in Homer Glen, IL. This was my first NADAC trial and my first trial in almost a year since I stopped trialing after Milo’s last injury. I’m not a big trialer and thus far I’ve only trialed in UKC and AKC. So I thought I’d give NADAC a try with Milo.

I especially liked the idea of five runs each day. I figured it would be more active than waiting around like you can do in Open or Novice at some AKC trials. I also thought it would be fun to try the unusual games like Weavers and Tunnelers.

I won’t go through a play-by-play of all ten runs; but I did record the details in a spreadsheet I keep for future reference. Each day started out with a Jumpers run. I had read the NADAC rules before entering, but I was still surprised to see only jumps and tunnels; I’m used to seeing weave poles on Jumpers courses. I managed to not screw up either run. My downfall on wide open courses is either over handling or not working each obstacle and sequence; basically my getting ahead of myself can be my biggest obstacle. Milo took 1st on Saturday and 2nd on Sunday; earning himself an NJC title.

Every Agility organization has its own peculiarities. In contrast to AKC and UKC, there aren’t any course maps and courses had a lot more space between obstacles. A lot of handlers were proficient at distance work; but on a number of (non-gamblers) courses I saw a fair amount of “gratuitous” distance handling by able bodied handlers who could have had faster (or clean) runs with some perspiration on their part. I had trouble getting used to the idea of “fixing” run-bys and still qualifying too. Although I soon found the ability to “school” in the ring beneficial…

Weavers was pretty much fun; a course of a half dozen tunnels and two sets of weave poles with straight on entries for around a dozen total obstacles. Running Milo with no jumps I really don’t have much time to figure out where to go next. I was put back on my heels a couple times and had to scramble to get back in position. It was an experience that really got me to think and act even faster than I would on a Jumpers course. Milo ended up with a 2nd and a 3rd place finish.

The four Regular (Standard) courses were good novice courses. I was so poorly positioned for one Front Cross Learning the Front Cross - VideoFront Cross that I pulled Milo off line for a jump and he went and took an off course jump before I could get him back (also I’m so used to AKC that when I saw him run by the correct obstacle I just let up - a bad habit!). So I blew that Q. On my second run I front crossed over a jump and called him in the air - that would be in the “what was I thinking” category - and he dropped the bar.

But then the unexpected happened, Milo bailed on the up plank of the Dog Walk. NADAC doesn’t use slats on any contact obstacles, and Milo is used to a slat-less teeter, so I think he got worried when the “teeter” didn’t tip and he just jumped off. It was especially unexpected to me because he was fine over the dog walk on the first course. So I took him around again and he bailed again (right where the tipping point would be), he was fine on a third attempt when I stayed by his side and reassured him. Not a good sign… I had already blown the run with my calling over the jump, but the last thing I wanted to do was mess with his contact obstacle performance.

The next day’s first Regular run I decided to try the Serpentine Serpentine Handling TechniquesSerpentine Sequence to tunnel Gamble. Milo was rocketing through the Serpentine jumps, got ahead of me on the last one and I directed him to the wrong side of the tunnel; failing the Gamble and earning an off-course to NQ the run. But otherwise the run (and the dog walk) was clean. The second Regular run was going really well until the next to last obstacle (you guessed it) the Dog Walk. This time going the opposite direction from the previous bail-out he jumped off again. I can’t remember if only one or if two retries were needed to make him comfortable enough to complete the obstacle. So now I need to find a slat-less dog walk to work on with Milo to help him understand the difference between the dog walk and the teeter.

The game for the day was Tunnelers; 7-8 tunnels arranged to give around 13 obstacles. I thought I’d learned from Weavers on the previous day how to better handle Milo at a trial at top speed (when he is even more jazzed up than usual); but I was in for a surprise. He likes tunnels and is easily going full speed after a run of three nearly straight tunnels. On one run I was momentarily orienting myself on the course and he shot past the next tunnel before I even saw him (“watch your dog!”). I had the course and my handling visualized in my head and had walked it on the course and even handled it on the sidelines with my eyes closed to make sure I had it “locked in”. But that moment’s hesitation almost cost the run - we ended up with a 7th place Q. On the second course I blew it on the third obstacle; Milo was on line for the correct tunnel in a minor discrimination but I felt “compelled” to yank on the Verbal Leash to get him to check in and he shot into another tunnel for an off course.

So I had a good time and I think Milo did too. I’ll have to think some more about this Dog Walk issue I just created, while I’m thinking about the next NADAC trial…

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