Our first AKC Agility trial was a wonderful success. A year and a half of hard work and practice has taken us from knowing next to nothing about the sport, to qualifying on 5 of our 6 runs. Normally this is where I would shrug it off a little bit since this is the Novice class level and I expect a lot of both of us. The courses we typically run each week at class are at a more difficult skill level. After watching numerous dogs and handlers struggle with different parts of the courses this weekend there’s no shrugging anything off.
Day one we went 3/3 taking 1st Place in all three runs. Each run was clean with only a few minor positioning errors by me. While extremely happy with our results, I was still wondering what I can do to get him moving faster. I am truly our harshest critic.
Videos of the runs are here: [FAST] [JWW] [Standard]
Day two was a bit of a different story. This is the first time we’ve done two days of agility back to back, let alone two days of trialing. Our first run left a lot to be desired. He took off from the start line so fast and hit the weave entry so hard that he got stuck in the weaves. If he had any more weight on his frame he would have snapped the pole. In this case the frame bounced him back a little bit and stunned him for a second. He still finished the weaves and I was tempted to just stop the run to praise him for not giving up. We continued and then our nemesis got us. Send to tunnel, come out to a jump sequence and ignore the Teeter. For an obstacle he didn’t enjoy working on when he was younger… the Teeter Tractor Beam bested us again, just as it did in January. T2B Result: NQ
We had plenty of time between our runs so I took some of it to evaluate what we were doing to get ready for the run and what could we change to get him back in a groove. A simple change of going to the warm-up jump for a few minutes before we walked the course seemed to be the ticket. Even having to restart a run because the timing mechanism wasn’t on didn’t phase him. The JWW and Standard runs were both perfect. Everything was moving in slow motion and it felt like Merlin had found a new gear for speed. The jumpers course was run in 21.94 seconds, which was 44% faster than the judges measured time for the course. The standard course was run in 35.43 second, which was 51% faster than the measured time. Holy crap. We were moving. Day two resulted in 2/3 qualifying runs and two more 1st place awards.
It was such an amazing weekend. We finished our first AKC trial with a total of five qualifying scores and five 1st place finishes. On those five runs there were zero faults or refusals. Nothing but clean and fast. The support from our agility family was nothing short of spectacular. Thank you to Dr. Tara of Worron Family Chiropractic for adjusting Merlin. Thank you to Heather of Lucky Dog Academy for giving us the skills and tools we need to be a successful team. We learned a lot during the experience and have some new goals to work on. Thank you to Hope and my Mom for being a rock solid foundation of love and support. This weekend is always difficult without the added trial stress (tomorrow marks 4 years since the old man passed). Words can’t express how much their love and support means.
Merlin may not have the most athletic build when it comes to BCs, but his will, drive and determination to succeed and do things perfectly every time is nothing short of spectacular. Overhearing that we made it look easy is such a great compliment. We’re going to take a moment to enjoy our success and then it’s time to start working on some jumping skills that will hopefully extended his athletic career.