Even though it's been a couple of months ago, I want to get the video up of Devon's first MXJ leg. It was at the Gem City Agility trial in Lewisburg, Ohio, on Friday, February 26. I was working in the other ring when I saw them walking my course. Unfortunately when I asked if someone else could take over, none of the people in the area knew how to scribe. Great! I scribed the last dog standing up and then raced to the other ring.
The judge was starting to fire folks out of the ring but she said those with conflicts and workers to continue to walk. I wasn't too worried even though I had not checked in, because I figured they would leave Devon in her "A" running order at the end of the 20 inch class since I'd just moved up. Imagine my surprise as I walked out of the ring past the first dog coming on line to check in and realize we were up in 8 dogs!
I should have just moved Devon down and taken a breather. That would have been the sane thing to do. But I didn't stop and think. I ran outside, switched my shoes, grabbed Devon from the car, pottied her and in we went. By the time I was in the door, we were next in the course. I had a second to review the course and then we were on the line. I had my back to the ring crew and heard a timer box say, "GO" but it was so quiet I thought it was for the other ring. Then I could practically hear crickets chirping. I turned to see the judge shrug and raise her arms as if to say, "Hey, I'd really like to judge you if you'd ever get off the startline." At that point what little composure I had was gone!
Devon bolted off the startline and I knew there was no way I'd get in that front cross I had planned after the second jump. It was onto Plan B, and I really didn't have a Plan B. Actually, Plan B was all rear crosses, and remembering the course when I was on the opposite side of jumps than when I walked it. Thinking fast and running hard, we pulled out a clean run for Devon's first MXJ leg and first 8 MACH points!
While this was a fast and furious run I'll remember forever, it did show me two things that have given me a lot to thing about. Devon nailed this course with rear crosses. She was driving forward and moving fast with me out of her way. I had to do that last front cross near the end of the course because I knew I wouldn't remember the course if I couldn't get it in. Devon noticeably pulled up and slowed down after that front cross.
I have always known Devon runs faster when I'm rear crossing and out of her way, and Friday's course showed it. I wanted to try something similar the next day. But on Saturday, I didn't like the flow of the JWW course. It seemed awkward for me. I was determined to rear cross, and the course called for it.
I don't think Devon really liked this course either. Before the video starts, I actually pulled her off a jump so we didn't Q this run. I felt it was slow and sluggish, but when I checked her time, we were still more than 5 seconds under SCT. Not a fast run, but not bad.
After looking at this run and seeing how Devon noticeably slowed toward the end of the run on a rear cross, I think the key with her is staying out of her way. She doesn't like me jammed up with her on jumps. I will have to work on driving with motion and being out of her way.
I also think a very short warm up time is also a key with Devon. On Saturday we had a much longer wait at the gate, and she was a different dog going into the ring. While I like to be prepared, Devon doesn't need a lot of time to think about her job; she just needs to go do it.