Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New handler, old groove

MKA ran their 1st official agility trials last weekend … took some time in coming but better late than never. However, MKA being MKA, decided to limit participation to members only. As I was never officially certified as a pure bred JRT, my owners never bothered to be part of the kennel association.
'My impersonation of a Meerkat'
However, Mr Owner came up with an ingenuous plan to ‘smuggle’ me into the trials. The MKA rules are very much based on dog conformation shows ie. anyone can handle any dog as long as he/she is a member. Hence, he appointed a fellow trainer (Mr Chan) who happened to be a MKA member to run me in the trials. I think he is just being plain lazy or perhaps, he is finding it more difficult to keep up with me in the agility ring. Yup, Mr Owner is one sneaky fella.'Sneaky dog takes after sneaky human.'
So Mr Chan had to run 2 JRTs for the event, his own JRT - Kimi and me. We put in a last minute training session the evening before just to give him a feel of my antics at the weave poles, and Mr Owner pretty much left Mr Chan to fend for himself. Poor Mr Chan, he doesn’t know what he is getting himself into.
Event was held in USJ Summit shopping centre and ring size was fine for jumpers but crammed for standard agility. Hence, the Indonesian judge could place not more than 14 obstacles in the ring. Based on my experience, small rings and closely stacked obstacles are a speedster’s nightmare and I was already counting the number of faults that I will eventually chalk up … I sniggered while Mr Owner fretted. Advantage to the slow and steady, close heeling dogs.

On the other hand, MKA decided to go with the outdated scoring format of adding 5 secs per fault (ie. placing determined by time) and this gave the advantage back to the faster dogs, as faults incurred do not automatically send you to the bottom of the pecking order.Being MKA’s 1st agility trials, judge was fairly lenient and didn’t make any elimination calls but opted for the easy 1 fault/ error/ obstacle. This suited me just fine as I proceeded to chalk up the faults as predicted but with the scoring format and my relentless pace, I still manage to take top spot. Notched up to 3 faults in both my runs much too Mr Owner’s frustration, nevertheless he still had to force a smile as Mr Chan did manage to run me to 1st place … I love this game!

However, it wasn’t plain sailing all the way bearing in mind that Mr Chan had to run 2 JRTs one after the other, twice. With our punishing pace, screeching turns and pivots, Mr Chan was huffing and puffing to keep up with us 2. Come the 2nd run, he had to ask for a timeout just to catch his breath before proceeding further. The judge was kind enough to oblige.Faults aside, it was a neat effort by Mr Chan considering he only had 1 practice session and was my 1st time running with a new human. In fact, I prefer Mr Chan cause he didn’t reprimand or make me reperform the obstacles which I faulted on, sweet.

My mates also had a good day at the trials. Kimi took 2nd spot in standard agility and won the jumpers class, while Amber the GR captured 3rd and 1st spots in both classes for maxi dogs.

With the agility trials being held in a busy shopping centre, there was no shortage of distractions to test our focus and attention. Plenty of noise, lights, movement, a DJ playing music in between runs and a voluble MC urging the teams on with remarks like, 'Don't miss the hole!’ (he was referring to tyre jump) and 'Yes, Yeesss, Yeeeessss!' (with each successful negotiation of an obstacle).

Obedience trials was held the next day and the mood couldn’t be anymore different with the audience being told to keep noise to a minimum and to stay 1 feet away from the ring. The DJ and MC were placed on silence mode as well. Despite the safeguards, a couple of petty OB handlers still found time to complain about people tapping on the signboards and other dogs being a nuisance by being too close to their dogs. Heard that a heated argument took place between a trialer and a casual observer as a result. Personally feel that these trialers are a spoilt lot. The main objective in a trial is for the dog to perform on field despite the distractions. If your dog can only perform in an area with minimal noise and movement, then for goodness sake, do stay away from trials in a shopping centre or any public arena for that matter.
As the saying goes, 'If you can't stand the heat, then stay out of the kitchen.'

'We even had time to perform tricks during the agility trials.'
Wonder what the OB trialers would have made of the agility trials the day before. Hah, the weird and wonderful world of dog trials … never a dull moment.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Walkabout on World Animal Day in Bangsar

Okay, we finally get a day dedicated to us animals which must be something to shout about as I don’t ever recall there being a World Human Day, 1 – 0 to the animals yeah! ... we should seriously lobby for a World Dog Day as well.
Organised by Furry Farm, we get to walkabout in the upmarket and trendy Bangsar neighbourhood. Bangsar Village shopping centre was kind enough to allow us to use their entrance area as the start and finish line. Wasn’t really a big deal for me as I regularly leave my paw prints on the Bangsar sidewalk every other week with the suburb being so close to my home. The sports complex here used to be my regular playground but my owners have found a more convenient and larger field to play at in PJ, so I mostly go to Bangsar for coffee and snacks instead. Malaysians still have a lot to learn about hygiene and picking up after their dogs. There wasn’t a dedicated doggie area/toilet, so most humans allowed their dogs to do their business as when they felt like it, right beside the shopping centre and all over the pavement and plants. During the walk, also noticed leftovers on the road which were not cleaned up by the humans. Well, don’t complain if we don’t we don’t get invited back the next time around. Little wonder that dogs always get a bad image when in public places. Humans, please do your part … if dogs had hands, we wouldn’t have to rely on humans to pick up after us.
Still, was good fun parading on the streets of Bangsar. Onlookers thought that we were some hardcore Rights Action group out to create unrest and I was just waiting for the riot squad to appear to quell our march, but nothing exciting happened … just a regular stroll through the neighbourhood. Perhaps we should have had house or trance music blasting by the side to add a festive mood to the occasion, but don’t think that the public is quite ready to see dogs dancing in the streets yet. More walkabouts in public streets, sure … but only for responsible dog owners.

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