Saturday, January 19, 2008

OB trials debut

Was time for the PAAPP Penang trials and this time it was held indoors in a badminton hall in Sungai Dua. Venue was ok, but location wasn’t central which meant fewer spectators. OB was conducted at a small concrete area beside the hall and was fenced all around, which made it difficult for spectators to view. Area also had drain covers which we had to walk over, and this affected several dogs during the heeling exercises.

As I was only lined up for Novice and Gamblers agility, we had time to kill. Mr Owner decided that it maybe a good experience to try out the OB PreNovice and Novice trials as well. Not my idea of fun as close heeling isn’t exactly my forte. Don’t mind heeling but just can’t understand the humans’ preoccupation with heeling on the left all the time. Last I saw, there was a lot of space on their right, front and behind which can be used for heeling as well … what a lot of good space gone to waste!

OB trials
My 1st tryout at OB trials, and at times I looked as if I was wondering around aimlessly, fidgeting and thinking, ‘What on earth am I dong here? You sure we’re in the right ring? When is the music going to start? When do I actually get to run around?’. Heeling exercise was straight into figure of 8 and I lost most points there, warmed up thereafter and got into the OB routine and managed a passable heeling exercise eventually. Was perfect in the rest of the stand, recall and stay exercises, and that helped me to get through with fairly decent scores of 91 and 90 in Prenovice and Novice respectively. Managed a 4th placing in Prenovice class, not bad for a mutt who hasn’t attended any formal training classes.

Novice class included 4 other dogs from Intermediate and Open levels taking part as well, so I was only there to make up the numbers. Owners were rather surprised and proud of my achievements in the OB ring and received 2 OB medals for my passable efforts … still, here’s hoping that I don’t have to do anymore OB again.

Me mate, Bank the GR also took part in similar trials and walked home with 2 medals for passing both classes. Hannah and Scruffy did nicely to earn 2nd and 3rd placing in Novice and PreNovice. As expected, Venus performed well and heeled away with both PreNovice and Novice titles … this is becoming a hard habit to break, but her owner isn’t complaining.

Agility trials
PAAPP laid out new carpets in the hall for the agility trials but they must have run out of carpets as only 2/3 of the hall was used. Despite the limited space, organisers were quite persistent about sticking to a fixed 20 obstacle course layout for Novice class, hence the course was extremely tight with no room for error. Obstacles were place very closed to each other (some less then 10 feet apart) which also meant that every other obstacle posed a trap for the larger or faster K9s. As a result, what was supposed to be a difficult Novice course turned out to be a challenging Open course. Certainly, ranks as some of the most challenging courses I’ve ever encountered.

Not surprisingly, the maxi class dogs struggled to complete the course and most couldn’t. All were eliminated and none managed a placing over the 3 Novice agility trials.

Most mini dogs ended up with the same fate except for the Dog Squad of Archer and I who bucked the trend and managed to secure top and runners-up spot. Close control, slow and steady was the order of the day and Archer was in his element with consistent runs to place 1st, 1st and 2nd over 3 trials and registering 1 clean run, sweet! I got an elimination, 2nd and 1st spots over the 3 trials, no clean runs. Not great, but Mr Owner thought it was a reasonable effort for a speedster considering the course layout.

Was actually on target for a clean run and top spot on my first attempt, cleared all obstacles well and was only an inch away from the finish line, when the crowd suddenly gave a loud cheer to celebrate and I, thinking it was over, made a U-turn and jumped back over the previous hurdle. Everyone groaned and I got eliminated … what an anti-climax. My owner looked at me in disbelief, I looked at him sniggering, ‘This happens a lot in the dog’s world … expect the unexpected, hee hee.’
Think that the organisers went a little overboard with trying to cram 20 obstacles in such a small area. Am all for challenging courses and prefer running such courses, but when almost all dogs were struggling to complete the course or ended up being eliminated, then commonsense should prevail and perhaps a few hurdles should have been removed to free up the space a little, to give every team a chance at a smoother and more enjoyable run. When the handlers themselves are running into walls and obstacles, you know for sure that the course design is not ideal.

As it is, only 2 dogs from the Dog Squad completed the Novice course and the long list of eliminations displayed on the scoreboard can be rather de-motivating to other teams. Understand that titles are at stake and the course difficulty level has to be upped but on the other hand, the organisers also failed to implement a challenging standard course time, leading to runs were very much based on control with no emphasis on speed. To gain agility titles, equal emphasis should be placed on speed and control ie. completing the course with no faults within a decent time. Still, the sport is new in this country and all of us are on the learning curve and there is always room for improvement going forward.
Finally, couple of shots of me at agility but this was only in the warmup ring, no photos during actual trials as my owners’ camera flash wasn’t strong enough to handle indoor shots … yup, they have an excuse for everything. Guess we’ll have to make do with pics of the fashion show contestants instead.

Basic Jumpers and Elementary saw fewer obstacles and the available space meant that more dogs completed their runs. Pacco did well in the Jumpers class and placed 1st and 2nd over the 2 trials. Archer did the same for Elementary class and Hannah, Scruffy and Jacky also took a couple of prizes in those classes. The Dog Squad were the biggest winners at the trials and all me mates ended up with medals or prizes. Pacco also performed her usual ‘freestyle agility’ (ie. auto-pilot mode) in Elementary and Novice classes which didn’t please her owner much, hence she was made to stand outside the hall till she came back to her senses.
Gamblers agility turned out to be a confusing affair as teams weren’t well briefed on the certain rules which were specific to PAAPP trials only. As a result, most teams had their opening period scores forfeited and only 1 prize was handed out over the 2 trials.

Despite the shortcomings, we had an enjoyable outing and appreciate PAAPP’s efforts in promoting dog sports. Organising OB trials and 3 separate Agility trials over 2 days is hard to emulate and we look forward to more dog sports from PAAPP. First time I've ever seen a St Bernard, Akita and Rottie at agility, so full marks to them for encouraging the sport.

Heard that PAAPP have purchased a brand new flyball box from USA and they are already training on it. If they get enough teams, flyball maybe in the agenda for the yearend trials … cool! Time to dust the old flyball box again and get back into the groove. Hope to find 2-3 new ball fanatics to form a team … Russell, Jojo, Hannah (my old flyball kakis), are you out there?Also overheard my owners mentioning that since my OB performance was fairly decent and improved as compared to agility, they are considering retiring me from agility for awhile and taking up OB instead. Yikes, better buck up on my agility runs at the training grounds as well … can’t take much more of this heeling on the left and am about to develop an allergy to it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2 tourists & a JRT in Penang

Was time for the PAAPP Penang dog trials and my owners decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and check out Penang Isle as well … with me on tow.
We arrived 2 days before the trials and embarked on a whirlwind tour of the Isle. 1st stop was the 1 of the most famous Buddhist temples in South East Asia, Kek Lok Si. Located on hilltop at Air Itam, the temple sits beside a gigantic statute of the Goddess of Mercy. We had to climb a fair number of steps to reach the top, bypassing a pond filled with tortoises. Pretty good life these tortoises have as all they do is lie and bake in the sun all day long, swim a little and then chomp on the vege and bread thrown in by tourists.

Also passed a few souvenier shops selling tacky touristy Tshirts. Fortunately for me, they weren’t selling any doggy wear. At the temple, I stayed mostly outside and took in the view of the island.

Bumped into a couple of monks as well so I pretended to be guard dog for the temple entrance in the hope of receiving good karma … yeah, dogs belief in that sort of stuff too.

Was very humid at that time, so my owners decided to head into town for cold drinks. Took some time for them to find the pubs and cafes, and we finally settled for a cool bar in Penang Lane called Beach Blanket Babylon. It was a very breezy lane and I was soon napping on Mr Owner’s slippers. Now this is my idea of a holiday, lazing around at sidewalk cafes with not much to do … very much like what the temple tortoises indulge in everyday. Appears to be the hippest and most happening street in town but we had to leave before the sunset as next on the itinerary is … the beach!

Popped into the Tanjung Bungah beach and there were already a number of Mixys making claim to the sandy beach. They were friendly but I didn’t fancy them sniffing at my butt for too long a time. They left soon after and it’s Frisbee time! Played till dusk and surprised my owners by making all catches despite the fading light. Love the beach cause all you have to do to cool down is just lie on the sand where the waves break onto the beach … and you get an all natural jacuzzi with a belly massage, groovy.

After that we headed further north to Batu Ferringhi to have dinner and explore the busy and interesting night market. Was different from the 1s we usually get back home as they had many arts and crafts stalls. Owners wanted to get cheap DVDs but the authorities were on the prowl that night. Or perhaps the stalls wrongly mistook me for 1 of those pirated DVD sniffer dogs n decided to close shop early ...
Next morning, we were at Gurney Drive for the usual Bak Kut Teh breakfast and stroll along the esplanade. Then we headed to Fort Cornwallis and met 3 Bajau mountain horses, 2 were running off leash just outside the fort walls. Spent some time watching them graze on the field till the lighter brown 1 got really close, so I decided to move along just in case this fella wanted to sniff my butt as well … he had really huge nostrils!Just next door was a lighthouse and the guard was very accommodating and allowed me into the compound to snap photos. Guard was a Muslim but he had kept a Doberman in his hometown orchard before, so he was cool about dogs, sweet.Before my pals from KL arrived in the evening, our last stop was at a pet shop named ‘Dogs r Us’. 4 resident Pugs and 1 Stzu greeted me with their butt sniffing antics, hence I wasn’t too pleased. Shop had loads of doogy wear, so I was the fashion victim again as my owners went overboard with trying the clothes on me. Was really glad to leave the place eventually.

Scruffy and Ginger’s owner was a local and arranged for a BBQ that nite at the Tanjung Bungah beach. Yeah, the beach again! Whilst the humans were busy burning their burgers and sausages, and the rest of my pals prayed for food droppings, I had my tennis ball for companion and was more then contented. However, Ginger the Mixy was also a ball fanatic and I was on red alert as she kept stealing the ball from me. As I had a soft spot for the ladies, I let her play with my ball on a few occasions but soon snatched it back when she was not looking.

Scruffy was a true blue water dog and had a go at the waves every now and then just to make sure that they haven’t fallen asleep. He would jump in the sea and then try to body surf back to shore and he didn’t even need a float.

Meanwhile, Pacco was way too preoccupied with the BBQ and polishing on her begging skills that night.

Sad to say my vacation was over too soon ... time to work for my kibble as the trials are on the next day.

Treat Counter