13 June 2010

The Team Small Dog visits the first West Coast UKI Agility Trial and offers this helpful guide to the features and benefits of UKI Agility.

Team Small Dog had a swell time at the first UKI Trial over here on the far west side of the pond. I would say West Coast, but Turlock, more cattle than coastal. The whole team got to run, even Ruby, and everyone came home a big champion.

We just went for Sunday morning. This time the alarm went off and woke me up in time. It was a sparkling sunny day, and a short one. A small day. The teensiest, tiniest trial I've ever been to. I ask you all, Where Were You? You missed out on some fun. We were done at noon. Who ever heard of being done at a dog show at noon? A speedy, well oiled machine out there at Nunes Agility Field. Everyone there, running in to set bars and course build.

In UKI, you can declare a run NFC. Like KFC, but lacking chicken. You announce this before you run, and you can bring a toy in the ring and train however you see fit. This is Gustavo's lifeboat towards better dog show focus. In his 3 runs Sunday, all focus, all the time. Many brave, fast teeter totters. One set of stellar, flawless weave poles, another set where he missed the entry, but when I held him accountable for redoing and finishing, no meltdown. Gustavo ran like a champ, turned tight, went only in the tunnels I pointed at, and ran to his leash at the end of the runs. I was VERY proud of Gustavo.

Otterpop ran twice, the perfect number for a non lame Otterpop. I ran her NFC on one of them, bringing beloved frisbee in with me. With frisbee in the ring, no judge stink eye. Laser focus on me, nice fast running and no evil eye at Judge Dave in his sensible, non Otterpop approved sun hat. No slowing down over contacts to judge stare and gear up for judge barking. Although some of the nice and speedy contacts, perhaps questionable. On the next run, a jumpers sans frisbee, one barking episode at the judge's lovely wife who was shooting photos ringside. Sorry, Erika. She's not afraid of no Otterpop though.

My lesson learned, my dogs are great at agility when I can bring their toy along for the ride. Which is never. Except at UKI. They have taught me well. This has long been my issue, bridging the gap from practice to performing. UKI is essentially pressureless for me, without it's Final SuperQ for the ADCh problem. Ruby and Otterpop are grandfathered in at the Champion level, Gustavo in Novice, I don't even know what you need to do to earn titles. It was really, really fun running Gustavo knowing that he had a much smaller chance of melting down because I had his dirty old sock tied on a rope with me. And knowing that Otterpop would give me 100% effort because I brought in a stupid scrap of faded orange and blue nylon. I have long known this about bringing running without their toys, we try to train how we compete, frequently without toys, but it's so much funner to have that reward out there with us. A massive problem though, for us.

Best of all, guess who got to run? Ruby hasn't competed in I think a year and a half. There's a class called Speed Stakes. Or Sweep Stakes. Maybe Speed Sweeps. Something like that. Basically a Steeplechase type course with just jumps and tunnels. She did one of her old skool freak outs on the startline, then rebooted and off she went, just like old times. Boy do I miss running Ruby. I run her different now, since I don't know what she can see, but she was able to run at 8" and left every bar standing. No helmet needed. We had just one miscommunication at the end of her run where, baffled by my extraneous rear cross, she had a spinny moment, decided I meant gamblers and headed back through a tunnel, but aside from that, hooray for Champion Ruby! Just seeing her so happy when she finally got her turn, totally worth it. I ran her NFC, brought her favorite tennis ball on a furry thing. What the hell. You only live once.

So UKI. Dog agility that all of Team Small Dog could enjoy. The whole NFC thing, Not Freaking Counting Q's, a very nice feature. Made for a very fun day for us. I do like to compete, I do like to collect titles, but when that sometimes makes for claustrophobic, head pounding despair over continual melt down weave poles, failed teeter totters and off course tunnels, just stepping into that ring, toy in hand like a security blanket for me as much as my dogs, nice. Bring it on, UKI Agility.


Elf said...

Ah, my, awards at the end of every run! That's what we used to do in the early days of agility. Before there got to be so many rings and so many runs. I was ribbon czar during some of that time, and it was so hard to keep up with that. I was so happy when we came up with self-serve ribbons. But it was nice to be able to celebrate, although almost no one showed up any more because they were all busy running or working.

team small dog said...

Do you think people would come to listen to awards presentations if the presenter did a costume change every time of different evening wear? And had a float to stand on? And maybe granted wishes with a fairy wand? Or handed out frozen jello shots?

And actually, people had to still go get their own ribbons. But it was announced. So sort of like a presentation without presenting anything.

Elf said...

I think they would come if they handed out money. Although rainbow wigs would be entertaining, or cross dressing. (Men only; how do women cross dress?)

Amanda said...

UKI sounds fun. I will try and check it out when it comes to the Midwest, though we are close to the mothership of CPE, so we have a lot of CPE trials here.

Vero said...

Team Chihuahua LOVES any venue where we're able to get a title in one weekend!Mia now has her SSB title - Speed Stakes Beginner. Now, we're never allowed to run Beginner Speed Stakes again! Well, puppy Ditto can, but not Mia. Now, when's that next N. CA UKI trial, hmm?

Nicole said...

This sounds so fun. Will there be any UKI events near Portland, OR this year?

team small dog said...

Here's the UKI website, they list all of the trials and matches coming up. See if there are any near you!