NAC Wrap Up


Home and finally able to reflect on this year’s AKC Nationals in Perry, GA.  This was my first time to the Perry site, and I really enjoyed it.  The dirt was phenomenal, but I’ve been told that’s due to the incredible diligence and hard work of dirt guy extraordinaire, Mike Padgett.  The layout was good, though naturally there was a LOT of walking with 6 rings.  It was a very well run and enjoyable event, which is what I expect from AKC.

This was Trip’s last Nationals, and it was tough.  She was very much “not right” the entire time.  To people who hadn’t seen her since last year, she looked like an almost 12 year old dog.  But I know how she was running a month ago, and it was nothing like this.  I’m not sure if it was running on dirt, the stress of the event, or something else going on with her health-wise.  There were some GI issues for sure that could have affected her, but I don’t feel like they should have continued to be a problem the entire weekend.  Musculoskeletally, she was perfect.  So, I will be investigating that further now that we’re home.  Despite all of that, Trip was her normal perfect self.  She ran Premier and all 3 Rounds clean, ending up I think 7th place.  I would expect nothing else from the perfect princess.

Trek ran fantastic, and I’m so proud of her.  She finished 8th place in ISC, and ran Rounds 1-3 all clean.  Unfortunately, we have the problem of being in the 12″ class.  104/204 teams were double clean after Day 1 — 51%!  She ended up 28th place overall after Round 3.  For us, the courses were just too simple, and I would argue that was the case for the 12″ class in general.  This same Q rate wasn’t seen in other heights, so I’m not sure what to do about that disconnect.  So while we didn’t make Finals, I did everything I could do to make that happen, and I can only be happy with that.

Mentally, Saturday was the most difficult time I think I may have ever had at an event.  Trek ran #260 out of 270 dogs in both Round 1 and 2.  That meant I would walk the course, and then 3-4 hours later, would run the course.  In the meantime, I ran Trip on the opposite course (if Trek was running JWW, Trip was running Standard, and vice versa).  It gave me lots of time to second guess my handling choices.  I actually ended up running a handling plan that I hadn’t even walked in JWW, which is not ordinarily something I would do at a National event.  On the plus side, after watching other teams, I felt more confident in handling a particular line in Standard with a serpentine that I wasn’t sure I could make in the walkthru.

I had learned at previous events that sitting and watching hundreds of dogs on my course is NOT conducive to a good performance for me.  Instead, I watched friends, shopped, and every hour or so would go back to the ring and check on where they were at.  Each time I did that, I would think about the course again, and visualize running it 3-5 times to help keep the course and my handling plan fresh in my mind.  Even doing that, I had a minor mental freakout when I decided to change my handling plan.  It’s never a good sign when you can’t even run the course correctly in your head.  But, I got refocused, and was able to get it done.  AKC’s real time running order online also helped a ton, so I could keep an eye on how fast the ring was running without having to physically be there.

So, all in all, another great Nationals in the books.  Now it’s time to prep for my absolute favorite event–AKC World Team Tryouts are in 30 days!  The day after arriving home from Perry, we built and ran a Mirja Lapanja course.  Time to get after it!

Here are Trek’s runs.


Posted in Agility Mental Management by agilityvet. No Comments

Heading out for the 2017 AKC Nationals


I’m getting ready to head out for my 11th AKC Nationals, and it’s time to think about my goals for the event.  It’s a little bittersweet, because this will be Trip’s last one.  She has attended 10 times, which is just unbelievable to me.  I know I am so lucky to still be competing with a dog who will be 12 in a couple of weeks.  My goals for Trip are simple.  Enjoy every moment.  Stay connected, and don’t take anything for granted.  In the last few months her hearing has started to get worse, so I need to make sure I pick her up out of tunnels and stay in her line of sight.


Trek is still a baby, and this will already be her second AKC Nationals.  Last year she ran 3 clean and squeaked into the Finals, which I never EVER expected.  This year, I’m fighting those expectations.  If Trip taught me anything, it’s sometimes 3 clean isn’t enough.  Sometimes the last bar comes down in Hybrid to cost you a Finals spot.  Sometimes, your dog eats multiple bags of treats in the hotel room and gets horribly sick.  I can only focus on what *I* can do.  So, I will focus on one run at a time.  I will make the best handling choices for Trek, to shave every split second off that I can.  I will not be frantic.  I will work each obstacle.  And then we shall see.


Good luck and safe travels to everyone!  And don’t forget, if you’re not going, you can get the Livestream at home from 4 Legged Flix!

Posted in Agility Trialing by agilityvet. 2 Comments

Small Practice Sequences

I have recently been focused on getting Trek ready for World Team Tryouts, as well as the AKC National Championship.  I was contemplating the skills I wanted to work on, and this setup came to mind as a good small sequence for some of the skills I wanted to practice.


Specifically, I wanted to work on hard bypasses around the tunnel, variable tunnel exits, and sending to the tunnel and immediately taking off and trusting that commitment.  In looking at courses from AWC Judge Mirja Lapanja, I feel like these are skills that will serve us well.

I ended up using a 15′ tunnel instead of a 20′ tunnel seen in the diagram.  I think the tunnel length changes the challenges slightly — the 20′ obviously requires more running and sending, but I felt like the 15′ made me LEAVE faster.  Regardless, these are some interesting sequences you can set up in a fairly small space to work on some advanced skills.  You could also substitute the weave poles for the tunnel to create a different set of challenges.  I suspect I will revisit some variations of this setup over the next 6 weeks.

Some tips:

If your bypass cue is not as strong and you are struggling, move the obstacle you’re attempting to bypass further away to make it easier, and reward your dog for the bypass.  Then gradually move it closer.

Try handling the sequences multiple ways, even if you know one way is the fastest option.  For example, in the first set of exercises demonstrated, it is faster to approach the #3 jump from the outside.  However, handling with a wrap on the inside wing, while slower, requires your dog to do a difficult bypass of the tunnel, which was my ultimate goal.

Remember to use deceleration at the tunnel entrance when you are asking for a sharp turn out of the tunnel.  The dog must see this cue BEFORE they go in the tunnel for it to work.

And here is Trek running some of those sequences, as well as working through a couple of errors.

Posted in Agility by agilityvet. No Comments