Chaos Crew

Chaos Crew

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three dogs, three rings, three days!

Last weekend I went to the FRAAD AKC show at the Castle Rock fairgrounds. It's a 3 day show and on Saturday and Sunday, there are 3 rings with 3 judges. Lots of people and lots of conflicts with all the rings. The fact that two rings are indoors and one is outdoors, out of view from the indoor rings, really doesn't help.

I got to run Baby for my wife as well this weekend since she had to attend a Nosework instructor event in Denver. Baby moved to Preferred this year when she turned 10, and she hasn't done a lot of AKC, so going into this show, she still needed 3 Double Qs (after Katrina just got her 3 Double Qs a week ago) to qualify for the AKC Nationals for next year. With only 2 months left in the qualifying period, the pressure was on to help out with those Double Qs. As it turned out, Baby was rockin the house and ran 6 awesome runs, getting ALL THREE of those last Double Qs!

As for my dogs, I am really pleased with how they did.

Skye had a smoking weekend too, and ended up going 7 for 10, also getting 2 Double Qs himself!
We ran FAST all three days as well as our first official T2B class on Saturday. Skye managed to get one of the FAST send's - distance work isn't our strong suit!
His only other NQ run was a Standard course where he missed the dogwalk contact. The dogwalk was the 2nd to last obstacle and he just jumped it and went over the finish jump. That was his only missed contact of the weekend.
I am working to qualify Skye for AKC Nationals too - he now has plenty of Double Qs (you need 6 in the qualifying period) and of the 400 points required, we now have 393! I looked at my records and we didn't do as many AKC shows this year as in years past. With this show, we have now attended just 8 AKC shows for the year, but Skye's consistency has gone up so we almost have those points already. I looked at his averages and he's getting an avg of 10.7 points per JWW run, and 17.5 points per STD. So, I need just one more JWW Q to be all wrapped up.

As for Rip, he had a lot of really great runs this weekend. He only ended up with 3 of 10 Qs, but he was really close on a few of those.
He got two Qs in Exc. B JWW, and that now gives us 7 JWW Qs. This is a huge accomplishment considering how he used to knock a bar in almost every jumpers run. He has also been running really fast and has greatly improved his speed in the weaves. On Sunday, he ran an Exc. JWW course in 23.5 seconds.
Also on Sunday, Rip ran a fabulous STD run but knocked the very last bar. He had slipped in the loose dirt and try as he may, he just didn't have enough to clear it. That run was done in just 38 seconds.
One of his STD runs had a bad approach to the dogwalk that I didn't manage enough, and he hit one stride on the up ramp and continued off the side of it. In his other NQ'd Standard run, I made a handling error by calling Rip off a jump before he took it - I was worried about the offcourse tunnel after the jump so I gave him a turn cue too soon - but kudos to Rip for coming off that jump! Then he took an offcourse jump out of a tunnel because I assumed he would turn towards me when exiting the tunnel - never assume!
Rip also got to run 3 FAST courses and he also Q'd the very same course that Skye Q'd. The other two were close but no-go, and in Friday's, he actually got the send bonus but the buzzer went while we were trying it. In his first T2B course, he ran great with just 1 bar down
So Rip hit every single contact that he was given an opportunity to hit. Yes!!

I've put a video of some of Rip's runs together here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ADCH or MACH, what's tougher to get?

So Nicki at Borderblog asked a question on one of my posts, since I do both USDAA and AKC agility, what is tougher to earn - USDAA's ADCH championship, or AKC's MACH championship.

From the engineer in me, the answer is the MACH, since it requires more Q's:
ADCH = 5 Standard + 5 Jumpers + 5 Gamblers + 5 Snooker (3 superQs) + 5 Pairs + 5 Tournament (2 GP + 2 Steeplechase + 1 Team)
MACH = 20 Double Q's (20 Standard + 20 JWW on the same day) + 750 points.

However, I really don't think it's that simple.

First, an interesting tidbit about my dog Skye - he earned his MACH in July '10, and less than 2 months later, he earned his ADCH (in Performance, which is actually called PDCH). In Colorado, we have about twice as many AKC shows as we have USDAA shows, so then in theory, the MACH was tougher to get because we had many more tries at it.

Skye is a medium fast dog, which helps him be more consistent. In AKC, the Double Q requires consistency, but you can't be real slow and consistent or you will earn your Double Q's far faster than the 750 speed points. When Skye got his MACH, he had about 800 speed points, so the requirements tracked along pretty equally for us. I don't have any stats on how many agility days of competition it took us to put 20 Double Qs together, but I do know that we had about 28 total Standard Q's, so only 8 times we got a Standard Q and did not get a JWW Q to go along with it. We Q JWW more often than Standard, and as of right now, Skye has 43 total Standard Qs and 55 total JWW Qs (and 11 Double Qs toward the next MACH)
Now, a super fast dog may earn lots of speed points when they are clean, but at lightning speed, they are far more likely to end up offcourse. It can be a real challenge for a super fast dog to get a double Q!

So, where consistency pays dividends in AKC, it's not so much a requirement in USDAA. 
There is no requirement that you need to get multiple Qs in a day for USDAA. Also, in some of the events you MUST beat the competition in order to Q, especially in Snooker, so you tend to push a bit harder. 

The 5 Standard and 5 Jumper Qs that you need are stand-alone - ie earn them when you can, and on your own as long as you are under standard course time.

In Gamblers, you need a dog that is trained to work away from the handler. This can be a big challenge for small dogs, who tend not to excel at distance challenges, and for some big dogs too. Skye is a 'clingy' dog who doesnt like to work away from me, so getting 5 Gamble Qs was tough for us, and in fact, to complete our PDCH, we were waiting on that last Gamble.

In Pairs, it's required that both you and your partner get through your half of the course without going offcourse. You are allowed to be 'sloppy' and drop bars, miss contacts, re-do weaves, etc. as long as you are fast enough to overcome the penalty points that are added to your time when you are not clean. You also must have 5 different pairs partners, so its the luck of the draw!

Now Snooker is a strategy game that gives a lot of people fits. You have to make a plan that will give you at least 37 points, and for 3 of the 5 Qs you need, you must place in the top 15% of the class. This means that you will often be trying for many more than 37 points, and you are increasing your chances of failure to get those points! If you compete in an area with very skilled, fast competitors, you will definitely have your work cut out to beat them and be in the top 15%. Snooker requires you to be able to run past obstacles without taking them, and generally run around with a course that doesnt make a lot of sense to the dog. 
For Skye, since he is a 'clingy' boy, Snooker is easier for us - he is not looking to take other obstacles other than what I am indicating. We have more USDAA Q's in Snooker than in anything else, and about half of our Qs are Super Qs (the Performance classes are smaller, so its easier than the Championship classes)

Finally, you need what USDAA calls Tournament Qs. 
You need to get 2 Grand Prix Q's, which are essentially Standard without a table. You have to run clean in these and you dont need to worry about your competition.
You also need to get 2 Steeplechase Q's, which is a speed course with an AFrame and Weaves, one of which you will do twice, along with jumps, tunnels and the broad jump. In Steeplechase, you are allowed to be 'sloppy' again, and drop bars and miss contacts as long as you are fast enough with the penalty points. You must again beat your competition to Q - the top 3 dogs' times are averaged together, and then 25% more time is added to that total to come up with the cutoff time for a Q. A moderately fast dog can get a Q as long as they run clean. 
You also need 1 DAM Team Q, which is a team of 3 dogs (2 dogs for Performance) who compete individually for points. Those points are added together using some multiplier formulas. The last event of Team is the Relay race. As long as your teammates do not go offcourse, everything is scored with time+faults. An offcourse is an E, and gets you zero points for that event. Consistency does pay off in the Team events.

Ahhhh, so what is the final answer to the question? 
I think an ADCH is Tougher to get for the average dog, as it requires many more skills than just the consistency of AKC. In USDAA, you have to run faster, be able to work at a distance, be able to run past obstacles, be able to pair with other people, and be able to come up with your own strategic course in Gamblers and Snooker.

The courses in USDAA also are often more challenging than AKC, with sharper jump angles and such.

Owners of super fast dogs will probably say that a MACH is tougher, because that consistency doesn't come easy, and they can get the USDAA Q's here and there, as well as not having to be clean for many of them.

So, opinions anyone? That's my take on it!