Agility trials are designed to test both the handler and the dog. For CPE, each trail has been created as a game and each game has a name and rules. Our first game was called "Jackpot."
Jackpot tests the course planning strategies of the handler and the dogs ability to work at a distance.
Jackpot is run as a two part course. A tape on the floor signifies where the two parts are.
The first part consists of the handler and dog working the course, attempting to accumulate at least the minimum number of points for their level in the stated amount of time. Each obstacle has been assigned a certain numbers of points. Some are 1 point while others are 3 points or even 5 points. The judge tells you the point value of the different obstacles. In our case we needed 12 points, higher levels requires more points. The end of the accumulation time is signified by a whistle. After you hear the whistle, the handler and dog then proceed to work through a series of obstacles on the other side of the tape on the floor (called the gamble) within a time set by the judge. The handler must stay on one side of the tape on the floor while the dog works on the other side. The obstacles must be executed in the correct order without faults and cross the finish line to earn those points.
Since on Saturday they were running the game from tallest dog to shortest dog, and from highest level to lowest level, and the games started at 8 am, it took a very long time to get to August as he was jumping 8 inches, AND it turned out that there were over 400 dogs there! So it was 10:20 or so before we got into the ring.
Remember, we were there for measuring at 7:15AM! So we walked around, met up with other class- mates, walked outside, and finally put August in my office to sleep (yes, I work at this facility as the class coordinator and obedience instructor). I watched the Pros do their thing, was surprised that I understood when either they or their dog made an error, and I asked a lot of questions.
A lot of questions.
The people get to walk the course without the dog to see where the obstacles are, which ones they want to do and which ones they will not do. They plan how to get the dog from one obstacle to the other, which directions the jumps go (yes, there is a correct direction on these things) and what end of the tunnels is the "enter here" side.
Finally, it was about our time so I took August out of my office, walked him again. and got him ready to run like the wind.
I had lots of people helping me, encouraging me and making sure I was where I needed to be when it was our turn. Having my cheering section with me was HUGE. Not only was August doing this for the first time, so was I, and as someone battling Cancer, my energy runs out fast so this was HUGE. Some were there for the day, another girl friend came in just to sit in the chair and watch and encourage me and August on our very first run. Having her there, knowing she drove all the way from her house to this place just for us made me feel so loved. Hubby couldn't be there for the first fun of the day, as he had a church business meeting that he needed to be at. As we came off the floor, some were laughing, some were clapping and some were crying, all were cheering. It felt so good!!
We began, we ran and we ended in under a minute. We needed 12 points in the beginning, we got 29 points. We needed all 4 of the ending obstacle's, we got 2. We ran out of time. We had a blast but we didn't qualify. We did do something else however.
August gets uncomfortable and then barks and shuts down. He barks at new students that come to class, he barks at students that come to class late. He barks and freezes if he see something that is new and scary to him. So here he is, in a large room with a woman in the middle of the room talking into a microphone, there are people sitting around the room that he doesn't know, there is a whistle going off, onlookers - lots of onlookers and dogs walking around - lots of dogs. I was sure he would shut down and or bark like mad. My goal for him was to have fun and we sure did. He didn't bark, he didn't shut down and he stayed with me. Here is our very first video of us. He sure did have fun, even if we didn't qualify.
Note to self: Why oh why did I wear white?? Note to self: NEVER again wear white!!! After 6 months of chemo and steroids, I've gained way too much weight and really need to do something about that. That aside, didn't August do great?