Poor dogs. The success of one does not bolster the camaraderie of the others. Instead, they are intensely jealous of one another. Everyone knows who’s the Food Lady’s favourite at the moment ;-)
Thanks for all the congratulatory comments! We are quite chuffed ’round these parts. Still. I mean, part of me thinks we could have done way better, but a bigger part of me knows it could have been a lot worse too … like, having to pull Tweed out of the competition altogether worse.
I’d love to do a blog post for you describing agility terminology, with photos, but I didn’t take any while I was there. Even though I was only running two dogs, I felt like I was always either walking a course, running a dog, or watching other people running their dogs and frantically revising how I was going to run my course with my dogs, with very short breaks for exercising the three stooges – who were just along for the ride- in the off leash area for very brief intervals. It’s amazing how you can fill a 12 or 14 hour day even though you are only running for a total of 6 minutes or less a day. Crazy huh?
But here’s basically how Regionals is scored; there are 3 games – Standard, Jumpers and Gamblers.
Standard is an obstacle course that is about 2o pieces of equipment long. It will include basically every obstacle in the sport (except the table), so that would be jumps, weaves, tunnels, the dogwalk, the A Frame and the Teeter, in a specified sequence. Your goal is to run the correct course as fast as possible with no errors. You start out with 100 points for Standard, and a set course time in which you must run … and different f*ck ups are penalties they remove from your 100 points. So a refusal (say running past a jump, or popping out of the weave poles) is a 5 point penalty. Taking THE TIRE INSTEAD OF THE TEETER, TWEED is an off-course penalty worth 20 whopping points (ouch) etc. If you run clean, you keep all 100 points. If you run clean and faster than the estimated course time (which is based on yardage) for every second you are under time, you get a bonus point. Example – Tweed’s Standard 2 was clean and he ran it with 20ish seconds to spare. That gave him 120ish points and a 3rd place finish (so you can imagine how fast the dogs who beat him ran it in!).
Jumpers is a sequential obstacle course that is also about 20 obstacles long and contains nothing but jumps and tunnels. It is much faster than Standard because there are no contact obstacles or weave poles, the two things that slow dogs down a bit. Jumpers is worth 75 points, and the same penalties and bonus system as Standard apply. So if a Jumpers course has a course time of 41 seconds, and you run it in 27 seconds but drop two bars (5 point penalties each), you lose 10 points and end up with 65 (TWEED) points. If you had not dropped the bars, you would have had 89 points. etc.
Gamblers is a very mean game that I love to play. Gamblers has two parts: the opening, in which every obstacle has a point value attached to it, and the closing, which is called The Gamble. In the opening, there are a whole variety of obstacles to take any way you like in a certain time period – 40 seconds. You run around and take as many obstacles as you can to get as many points as you can. There are two “mini Gambles” in the opening as well, which are worth extra points. A Gamble is a sequence of obstacles performed with the handler behind a line of tape on the ground, and the dog doing the correct sequence of obstacles on the other side of the tape – at a distance. If you have a yo-yo dog (Piper) Gambles are hard, because you can’t SHOW the dog what obstacles to take, you have to rely on vocal commands, directionals and in my case, jumping up and down and screeching at the top of your lungs in a pitch that shatters glass. You can do every obstacle and mini-gamble twice for points. When the whistle blows, you have 18 seconds to get to, and complete, the Gamble – which is harder and has more obstacles than the mini-gambles in the opening. If you get the main Gamble, you get 35 points, plus all the points you collected in the opening, plus bonus points for every second faster than the 18 seconds allotted to you that you completed it in.
Clear as mud? Over the weekend, those three games are performed twice, and the courses are different on Sunday than they were on Saturday. Other than the laws of physics, there is no limit to the number of points you can acquire over those two days based on clean runs and bonus times. And zero is as low as you can go.
The really amazing fast and accurate dogs can get in the high 500s and 600s. Tweed got just over 500. If he had not flubbed those two courses where he racked up 30 penalty points, he would have ended up with something like 570 points and been very near the top placements (well, 5th was very near the top placements, but you get my drift). One thing I did notice about his performance this year was that he is slower than in previous years – last year his clean runs got him 1st and 2nds, and this year he got 4ths and 5ths instead. I mean, he’s 10 years old and recovering from foot surgery, so it’s not a huge surprise. I am considering dropping him to the veterans class, where he gets longer course time allotments, because that’s the nice thing they do for dogs who are older.
Regionals is the event where you do all this craziness in your province or territory to qualify for Nationals, which is where dogs from every region across Canada compete in an event similar to Regionals but against one another, instead of just one another in their region. Nationals is held in a different province every year. You need 350 points to qualify for Nationals, so both Tweed and Piper can now compete at Nationals if I want to. I am thinking about going – it’s in Calgary this year, which is a drivable distance (I don’t go when it’s on the other side of the country) – with Tweed, assuming nothing else goes wrong with his feet, and assuming I can get the money together in time. Piper is not good enough yet to compete at a national level.
First though, I would need to find a dog sitter for the other canines. They said they did not appreciate being crated for 12 hours a day at Regionals, and are not looking forward to driving to another province just to repeat the experience in Alberta. That’s the problem with having a whole mess of dogs; you end up sacrificing some of them to showcase the others ;-) So to make it up to them, I took them to the beach yesterday for two whole hours of fun and frolic.
he ran away. And by away, I mean alllll the way back the way we had come. He’s gotten very fast, what with all the hunting and the weight loss, and I had no hope in hell of catching him. I am not very good at guestimating distances, but I would guess it’s a full mile from where we were at the water’s edge encountering the kite surfer back to the railway tracks, where I finally managed to nab him … and that was only because he couldn’t find the path over the railway tracks. I am pretty sure he was trying to find his way back to my house. I think I ran more trying to catch TWooie than I did all weekend at Regionals.
And then I had to run all the way BACK to the water again, because when I started chasing TWoo, Dex, Tweed and Wootie dropped their Dumbballs and Wootie Toy™ and came with me.
Piper did not. By the time I got back to Piper again, she had collected all the tennis balls, put them all on top of the Wootie Toy™ and was anxiously standing guard over her treasures. Piper believes in No Toy Left Behind as a life philosophy.
Just another whacky day with the whacky dogs of The Food Lady.
I had someone videotape most of the runs from the weekend … as soon as I figure out how to get them off the borrowed video camera (thanks Carlos!) I will upload them so you can see some of our stellar – and not so stellar – performances.