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!


Blogger Amber-Mae said...

Congratulations on your wins Groovy! You did exceptionally well! Not bad for your OB huh? Why not keep on trying OB & take a break from a Agility for a while & give ME a chance to win 1st place instead huh? Heeheehee...Too bad that the obstacles were placed sooo closed. Hey here at my training grounds, there are about 20 obstacles too placed soooo tightly together that my mommy can only walk & sometimes, she has to walk over the hurdle becoz it's just too tight. I can't run fast too & it's hard for my mommy to teach me to go to an obstacle & complete it with just a hand signal and command. She's always on my side & I don't really enjoy myself much...You coming tomorrow? Hope to see you there.

Love licks,
Solid Gold Dancer

11:17 PM  
Blogger Pacco de Mongrel said...

i hope one day, my agility freestyle will come 2 a halt! coz i dun fancy bringing such a small amount of food back home either...

with u and bank taking part in the OB... ms owner had also been hit by the OB-bug... heeling n holding the dumb-thing everyday..... -_-"

9:54 PM  

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