17 December 2007

This is kind of boring unless you like dog agility.

So here's how this whole team thing works, at a team tournament. You might not want to read all this. It involves math. A lot of it. They use computers to track it all and it's sort of like magic. But come on now. If dog agility is going to be the new black, it is fun and it is cool, you are going to want to someday be on a USDAA DAM Team.

You and your dog are on a team with 2 other sets of dogs and handlers. You make up a funny name. Or in Ruby's case, because she's in performance so she can jump lower, you have just one other teammate. Some people make t-shirts with dog pictures on them. You know how I feel about those. I have some plans for future team outfits and they involve Santino and tennis skirts and no dog t-shirts.

There are 5 team classes that you have to compete in and get points based on time and faults only. But, if you go off course at all, you are eliminated and lose half your points. In classes that use points instead of faults, like snookers and gamblers, it helps to have a small fast dog because the small dogs get some extra seconds allowed to level the playing field. The rules are all a little bit tweaked from how normal classes run. The final event is worth the most points-it's a 3 dog relay race and if you go off course in there and get eliminated, you lose ALL the points from everyone on your team for that event.

I am not sure how they calculate this, but it involves excel spread sheets and an adding machine and everyone that does accounting has to run the score table for team events. And never leave. They are kept chained to the score table and fed candy. It is all about the numbers. For those less numerically inclined, then it's all about going really fast, trying to stay clean and not letting an off course happen.

Ruby got an off course in her first class of the day-Standard. Which she never does, except for when she's on a team apparently. It was just a dumb thing, she backjumped something because I got into a wrong spot for an instant and I couldn't stop it. The rest of her run was great, but it put her team low in points at the beginning. But she worked hard (pretty hard, let's not talk about the slow weave poles or the uninspired jumpers run though) and got a lot of points back in her other runs. Then, when her team mate went off course in the final relay race, any hope of moving up to just barely get the team Q was squashed. Ruby's teammate felt bad, but the pressure was off of her since Ruby had gotten the first E and we were pretty much squarely in the middle of the pack, so maybe we could have moved up and gotten the Q but maybe not.

So you not only feel real bad because you screwed up if you go off course, you also screw up someone else.

Otterpop's team was solidly in there when one of her team mates went off course in the final relay race. There's a lot of stress around that relay race-everyone is watching, secretly hoping the top teams go off course so their teams move up to win a Medal! And the team Q. And the course is purposely designed to make it very, very easy to go off course. Tricky. Her teammate just looked like she wanted to barf and crawl into a hole because she's been trying for a while to get that team Q and things always happen, and it seemed like that last elimination was putting our whole team out of the running. She went home. But we had enough points we still got it.

But I never wanted to beat her up or anything. It could just have easily been Otterpop doing something wrong out there and messing up. That's just how I saw it. Ruby, I was a little more surprised about but they are damn dogs. They do stuff like that. You have to train them better and they do less stuff like that. It's just how it goes. Here's a little motto. Train-Don't Complain. People have it on t-shirts. Usually that also feature a dog cartoon. In size XL. No matter what size the t-shirt wearer is. But if you are going to do dog agility, you sort of have to listen to that if you want to win. So we have a lot to work on.

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