Saturday, September 22, 2012

Astro's Summer NADAC Agility Trials, Parks, AZ

Astro and I have been in two NADAC agility trials since our first in July.  These trials are held in Parks, AZ and hosted by Amber Abbott and her family on their property.  It's a beautiful location with a view of the San Francisco Peaks behind the ring. 

Astro has done a great job and I'm really impressed with how he continues to improve.  The trials are two and a half days long on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday.  The first trial was the weekend of July 27, which also happened to be Astro's 3rd birthday.  On Friday the 27th the birthday boy got his first qualifying run in Tunnelers, which is a course of nothing but tunnels and most dogs just love it.  He was flying and did the run in 23.14 seconds for 1st place in his group.  WooHoo, a rockin' birthday run!

That turned out to be our only qualifying run for that trial, although we had some good runs and came close a few times.  Astro still gets pretty excited when going to new locations to do agility and usually has to get some goofiness and zooming out before we can get focused.  I'm sure this is also partly due to the fact that I also still get nervous especially at the start of the trial and when we are at a new location.  The dogs definitely pick up on those things.

Throughout the weekend we both settled down and improved.  Honestly, I think the main reason we didn't have other qualifying runs is that poor Astro is handler impaired.  He is a sweet boy and still has fun though and doesn't seem to hold it against me.

Our next trial was the weekend of August 24 and we did much better.  Friday morning I took him out for a good hike hoping that would help him be a little less explosive on our first runs.  I definitely think it helped.  In fact when we got to the trial I was worried that I over did it.  It was warm with direct sun and Astro was not his usual bouncing self.  But, our first run was Tunnelers and he did a great job and qualified with 2nd place.  I've worked really hard at being able to keep Astro focused on me and agility while having all the distractions (people in and outside of the ring, and dogs outside the ring, new locations, etc.) around.  Astro has improved tremendously.  Occasionally he still wants to visit, especially on those first runs.  I was really proud of him when he lost focus as he came out of a tunnel at the front of the ring and I had to recall him from going to visit.  He didn't even make it over to all the wonderful temptations and came right back and into the next tunnel.

Our next run was Touch N Go, a course of everything but the weaves, and by this time clouds had come in, it had cooled off and Astro was back to being Mr. Spunky Butt.  It was a fast fun run and although we didn't qualify I was really happy with how he worked at a distance from me, because there was no way I could keep up with him.

I'm really happy to say that Astro did not get the Zoomies the whole weekend.  Zoomies are when the dog gets so excited or overwhelmed that they take off running and flying around the ring at full speed leaving the handler standing there feeling quite lonely and helpless while everyone else giggles and laughs and thinks it's great fun to watch your dog having such a wonderful time without you.  I know this feeling very well.  :-) 

On Saturday Astro and I got our 2nd Q in Regular class, which is a course that has all the obstacle types.  These trials are held during what's called our Monsoon Season, meaning it's the rainy season and we often have big thunderstorms with lightening, wind, rain, and even hail develop quickly.  As we stepped up for our 2nd Regular run a storm was coming in.  Lightening flashed above our heads and was followed by loud thunder as I was taking Astro's leash off.  The judge called it and at this point everyone has to get their dogs and head to their cars to wait out the storm.  Luckily neither Zephyr or Astro are afraid of thunder, but some dogs are and once the thunder starts they can't run.  We would get to run after the storm passed.  Since we were kind of disrupted by the storm I wasn't sure how it would go.  It was great and that's the run that we got our 2nd Regular Q and 1st place in his group. 

To receive your novice title in a class you have to have three qualifying runs.  Going into Sunday Astro had two Regular and two Tunnelers Q's.  We were signed up to run in Regular and Tunnelers on Sunday.  I knew that it was possible for us to finish our novice titles in these classes, but I didn't really expect it.  As we stepped up to the start line for our first regular run once again there were dark clouds and lightening, but this time they were in the distance.  It was a great run with our only bobble being that Astro missed the weave entrance the first time, but you can redo that in novice.  Holy cow, we qualified, got 1st place, and that was Astro's first agility title!

 Astro's Novice Regular title run.  

Unfortunately when I uploaded the video to Youtube the lightening that was striking in the distance during our run was cropped out, but it sure looks cool.  I was so happy and proud of Astro.  I was so excited that I was having a hard time focusing myself.  Our second Regular run was not a qualifier because of my poor handling, but it was still a good run.  Before the last run of the day, Tunnelers, the awards are presented.  I was almost in tears when everyone clapped as we got our title ribbon. 

The last run was a difficult Tunnelers course with tight turns and a couple traps that presented your dog with a tunnel directly in front of them but the course required them to make turns to other tunnels.  Astro was tired by this time and I had a headache that I swear came on after all the excitement of our title finishing Regular run, I had left my medicine at home too.  Astro came within inches of going into one of the trap tunnels.  He was trying so hard to listen to me, even though it was only about two of his big strides between tunnels, and the sweet smart boy turned and came over and we finished the course and qualified with 2nd place.  OMG, that was our Novice Tunnelers title run!

 Doing Dog Agility became a dream of mine after I got Zephyr.  Zephyr did do some agility, but when he got encephalitis of course the main focus for him became getting him through it and keeping him healthy.  And honestly, Zephyr was unfortunate to be my first dog and suffer from my lack of training skills.  I do still practice with Zephyr and would like to have him get back to doing more, just for fun not competition.  Astro is only slightly more fortunate in that I'm still learning how to do all this, but I have to admit Astro's personality is a little better suited for training and working with a person.  But, that might also be because I really was just about clueless when I started with Zephyr and I didn't develop those skills in Zephyr as well.  Astro and I still have so much to work on and improvements to make, but I'm thrilled that we've made it this far.  I just sent in our entry form for our first AKC agility trial which will be in late October.  AKC includes more obstacles (teeter, table, tire jump, chute, and a variety of jump types) and I think it will be even more fun.  I'm sure it will be a crazy ride, but I'm really looking forward to this and hope we'll continue to improve and and have fun and success in AKC agility.


Sue said...

WOW! Way to go guys.

Looks like everyone was having fun and that's what really matters.

houndstooth said...

Congratulations! He looks fantastic going through all his paces and you've definitely done a great job with him. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it looks to me like you've gotten a great start!

houndstooth said...

Congratulations! He looks fantastic going through all his paces and you've definitely done a great job with him. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it looks to me like you've gotten a great start!

Sarah Regan Snavely said...

He looks like he's having so much fun! Congratulations on your accomplishments.

gyeong said...

Congrats! He looks so focused and determined in competition. He looks very proud of his ribbons.

Trina said...

Congrats! Those photos are awesome. He looks like he is having so much fun!!

Claire Krigbaum said...

I LOVE the picture of him coming out of the weaves, those muscles! All of them are really great shots, they really show is enthusiasm! I have never seen a greyhound with zoomies, I can imagine it would be spectacular, for the crowd at least :)
Congratulations on the two new titles!!!

jcp said...

Astro looks GREAT! Congratulations!

Jennifer said...

Wow!!! Congratulations to you guys!


Aragon greyhounds said...

Wow just catching up on reading blogs. He looks so happy and responsive to you-way to go. Congrats on your first agility title. Warning agility gets additive!!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Darn, this post has got me in tears, lol:) Happy tears though! You wrote it with so much love and pride and it just got to me. Big congratulations on your first titles. I'm sure there will be many more and I look forward to reading all about them and maybe shedding a few more happy tears for you both:)

Joanne said...

Congratulations! We are learning the sport but no competitions yet for us.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Once again, congrats! Glad to see some new agility greyhounds up and coming. I would not be brave enough to do tunnelers. Mine would shoot out like cannons. It would be bad... very bad. :-)