NADAC Weekend (and videos)

Last weekend we did the SCOR NADAC trial. Cheap entry fees and close to home – how could I resist? We lucked into some beautiful weather and had a lot of fun. BTW, totally LOVED that they chose to offer “per owner” discount pricing packages. I run multiple dogs and since I don’t run any of them in all classes I usually wind up paying top dollar for my runs. Thanks SCOR, much appreciated. I wish more clubs and venues would price like this!

And we even have some video! I rarely think to ask anyone to video my runs and I really should do so more often. I’m not the most elegant handler and I usually cringe when I watch the playback (blame my parents – I NEEDED ballet lessons, I got piano lessons) but I always come away with something to work on. Anyway, huge thanks to Jane and Sue for videoing us!

Bryce likes NADAC because not only do they let Little Old Men like him jump 8″, but there are so many classes without contacts that he gets some variety too. Several people commented on how happy he looked this weekend :). Here he is in Tunnelers:

There’s no such thing as too much Bryce, so here he is in Jumpers. There’s a hill on this field and the old man wasn’t lovin’ those uphill sprints. Can’t say I blame him, by the end of the weekend my legs felt like LEAD!

Bryce had an “interesting” Hoopers run. He started out running normally … all of a sudden he sat down and started pulling at his tail hair. TOTALLY unlike him to stop mid-run, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t anything that hurt (a leaf, maybe?) so I got him moving again. Did a few more hoops, he stopped AGAIN. “Restarted” him a second time, finished the course (squeezing in just barely 1″ under time). As soon as he jumped into my arms I reached around to see what was going on back there… and tangled in his “pants” was a 6″ long pine twig! Yep – that would do it. Poor guy – he ran the course and got his Outstanding Hoopers title with a STICK stuck on his butt! How embarassing! (Sorry – no video of this.)

(I made a point of doing “inspection” before the rest of our runs!)

Raven was looking great in all weekend. When she’s “on” she’s so much fun :)! Here she is in Tunnelers. She went wide on those 180’s – that “bungee” effect you get from some fast dogs when (ahem!) the handler stops moving (I “flailed” too – ugh!) – but she isn’t as obstacle focused as my “big dogs” so if I’d taken off running I would have risked her missing the tunnel entrance altogether. See? Something to work on.

Jayda ran well all weekend, but we struggle for time in the upper levels. She’s right on the “bubble” and the least little hesitation puts us over, which kind of sucks. NADAC’s big distances between obstacles are the worst – she’s faster on more tightly-spaced courses. For those of you who don’t know Jayda, Jayda really enjoys DOING agility but she’s a VERY nervous and environmentally sensitive dog. She’s MUCH better than she was, but it’s difficult for her to let loose and RUN at a trial. However she often makes up in steadiness for what she lacks in speed. We made time on this course and finished her Elite Regular title.

Note the little look over her shoulder as she came out of the blue tunnel. Photographer was back there, I think.

Agility Venue Bashing

I’ve been playing this game for quite a while now (since 1994 – yikes!) and one of the things that’s always annoyed me is agility venue bashing or “neener, neener – my venue’s better than yours.”

AKC, USDAA, NADAC, CPE … I’ve done well in all of them through the years, and I’m game for trying anything new that comes along. When you “cross train” a lot, the first thing you learn is that every venue is different and they all have their pros and cons. Believe me, I can be a world-class whiner and could come up with a pretty good list of gripes about any of them! But to label one “better” than another? Or even more ridiculous, assume that the teams that participate in a particular venue are less skilled than those who compete primarily in another?

I spend a lot of entry fees in two venues that seem to bear the brunt of this attitude: NADAC and CPE. Heck – even NADAC people turn up their noses at CPE :)! Why do I participate in them?

When I started out with my girls, those were absolutely the right venues for us at the time. NADAC’s open courses and smooth flow gave Jayda the confidence and speed she so badly needed. “Sloppy handling” is a common accusation from non-NADAC participants, but I have to say that if anything, NADAC forces me to be very conscious of my handling – a bobble or a spin or even an inefficient line can so easily put you over time (even with a “fast” dog!)

CPE is awesome for babydogs – being able to do short courses like Fullhouse and Colors is a fabulous middle step to decreasing reinforcement density in a genuine trial atmosphere. Both venues are also very accomodating for semi-retired veteran dogs – my old guy has plenty of games he can still enjoy SAFELY in both venues.

Last Spring I went from weeks of nothing but CPE and NADAC to a 3 day AKC trial where Jayda qualified all 3 days in jww – 2x 1st place in Open and again the next day as a move-up on a pretty tight/technical Excellent course – one of only 3 “A” dogs to qualify. Damn, those out-of-control NADAC dogs and their sloppy handlers :).

ARE there teams running in NADAC who lack the necessary control for other venues? Yes. ARE there teams in CPE who “get by” with gawdawful handling and a lot of luck? Of course there are. But each venue brings it’s own particular “flavor” to the table and if you look at them with an open mind and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE, you’ll realize that each one offers something unique that can enhance you and your dog’s teamwork and skills.

At the end of the day it’s the relationship with your dog and how you perform as a team that matters, right? So please don’t assume my dogs and I are “less-than” because I choose to play in a different venue!