Meeker Advanced Agility Dog

27 Dec 2009Steve Schwarz

This weekend Meeker and I were at the RACE USDAA trial in Round Lake Beach, IL and earned Meeker’s Advanced Agility Dog (AAD) title. Going in to the trial we needed to qualify in Advanced Snooker and Advanced Pairs to get Meeker his title.

I was a little concerned about my ability to run; somehow I’ve given myself a groin pull and I wasn’t sure I could Front Cross at full speed without “doing myself a mischief”. I had only practiced lightly the past couple weeks and my doctor had told me to take it easy…

It had started snowing in the morning when we started the drive at 6:00 AM and snowed all day long. The trial location is at the edge of a Forest Preserve so there was a trail on which I walked Meeker a couple times. It was right out of a holiday card: completely quiet, the forest blanketed in snow with big fluffy snow flakes falling.


We had five runs on Saturday. In Master’s Gamblers we got the Gamble for our first leg in that game. The only bad thing was Meeker didn’t stop in 2o2o on the A Frame. He did a gorgeous running contact and being the brilliant trainer that I am I said, “Good Dog!”, which would have been right a couple months ago. So now I’ve rewarded him for not stopping… I didn’t get a full stop on the A Frame the rest of the weekend, but I did mark it verbally and he was trying to stop.

We also qualified in Masters Jumpers and Masters Standard with 1st and 2nd places respectively. The Advanced Snooker run was all going well until we made the turn for the closing sequence. I stood flat footed part way through a Post Turn/Shoulder Pull Learning the Post TurnPost Turn/Shoulder Pull/Pivot Turn and called after Meeker as he went off course over an already taken red.

It was a well run trial, the only thing that could be considered a shortcoming was there was only one ring of contact equipment. It was fantastic that we had our first four runs done by 1:00. Then I had a three hour wait for our Pairs run, oh well so it goes. Meeker and I teamed up with our agility pals Liz and Ruby for Advanced Pairs. We ran the first half and I redirected Meeker over the correct jump coming into the transition area just in time. We earned our Q and even won 1st place :^)

The ride home was kind of exciting, since it had been snowing all day, the roads were snow filled and slippery. Once I got on the interstate there were a couple times when it was near white out conditions. There were ten inches of snow in my drive way when I got home… My injury had forced me to buy my first snow blower and I was glad to have it.


On Sunday, I took a bit of a risk to get the 7 point obstacle twice in Masters Gamblers. I ended up coming back across the Gamble line and Rear Crossing Learning the Rear CrossRear Cross Meeker into the weaves just as the buzzer went off and it was a bit of a run to get him to the start of the gamble. I got the Gamble obstacles but Meeker was just over the final jump as the timer went off. I missed the Q by 0.29 secs… But it felt good to get the points and the gamble.

Masters Jumpers felt good and Meeker Q’d with a 3rd Place, 0.4 secs out of 1st place. I really like running Jumpers with Meeker. If I could have “put the pedal down” and really run hard it might have been closer. :^)

The Master’s Standard course had a section that was visited three times where there were all three contacts and three tunnel openings arranged in almost a circle. We got through it fine twice and on the third time I cued “tunnel” and I was certain that he was in the correct one. So when he didn’t come out I was really surprised. I believe the look of surprise on my face was described by the onlookers as “priceless”. It was pretty funny!

I found a minimum risk, and almost minimum points plan for running Advanced Snooker. There was only one sticky point when Meeker finished the 6 weave poles and started to drive forward to an of course jump. I executed a heinous call off to get him back on course and finished the course. We ended up with our final Advanced Snooker Q and a 2nd place.

Lessons Learned

Trialing can bring to light training issues and I’m seeing a familiar pattern after this trial. I have to keep moving and be very careful with Post Turns where my body obscures the obstacle to which we are turning. In the excitement of a trial Meeker will shoot off to an off course if I don’t “nag” him to stay with me in the turn. Two of my three NQs and my almost NQ in Advanced Snooker were situations where the course forced me to Post Turn toward a hidden obstacle in the presence of nearby off course obstacles.

So now we need to Q in Masters Snooker and Masters Pairs to get Meeker his Master Agility Dog (MAD) title. A big thanks to RACE Agility and Contact Sports Agility for pulling off this big trial in the middle of a snow storm!

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