Days 2 and 3 of the TDAA Petit Prix

On the second day of the TDAA event in Racine, actually the first day of the Petit Prix, we looked forward to 4 opportunities to get good scores. With the background scoring in place, I wanted Hazard to be as fast as possible, but consistently Q-ing.

To quote Bud, “Run clean and you’ll beat a lot of dogs.” I didn’t play it over-safe, on the other hand, as this was the time for boldness. Our first runs were Standard and Dare to Double, running concurrently in two rings. Due to a logistical anomaly, with one ring starting with tall dogs and the other ring starting with small dogs, Hazard was always scheduled to run both rings at the same time. She was positioned right in the middle of both lists, but I guess that was better than having one run early and then waiting several hours for my next run.

Bud and I decided on this, the first day of qualifying for the Petit Prix, to take turns running Hazard. It’s impossible to tell ahead of time which handler she’ll enjoy most. Usually she works consistently but slowly for me. Her most brilliant runs are with Bud.

By taking turns we were enabling her to choose her handler for the remainder of the events. She had a nice Standard run with me, and a terrific Dare to Double with Bud.

Next we prepared for Jumpers and Nested Gamblers. Since Bud did all Hazard’s distance training we decided he should surely run that class. I took responsibility for Jumpers, and walked the course with SPEED in mind. I walked the course twice to check out the lines and traps.

During my third walk through I envisioned a slow, timid Hazard running with me. I tried to find long, straight lines of acceleration and put in as many blind crosses as possible.

In the meantime, Bud walked and ran nested gamblers with her. Her start line release was pitifully slow and timid. She sped up as she got out into the ring, safely away from all those serial killers acting as scribes and timekeepers. Our video showed us a little dog very concerned about her surroundings.

My heart sank as I watched, and I knew Bud felt bad about the fact that Hazard feels less safe running with him than with me. We preach to our students about placing all that responsibility on a little dog’s shoulders, but it’s easy for us to fall into the same trap. We wanted her to do well for for half a dozen reasons, none of which really had anything to do with her.

Hazard’s Jumpers run started a little slow but she loved my blind crosses and straight lines. At one point I did a tandem turn and sent her zipping out to a tire, she barked with excitement and ended the run with some of the old fire we remember from years ago.

The decision was made for us at this point, really. I’d be running Hazard on Sunday. I was exhausted, discouraged, and fairly certain we’d not make it into the semi-finals, let alone the final round of the Petit Prix.

I experienced a shift in perspective. Instead of thinking about doing well, I began thinking of what was going to be the best experience for Hazard. I decided we’d just do our best, support our friends, and make the weekend fun for Hazard.

Exhausted, we returned to our room. Bud prepared to walk to the TDAA Board of Directors dinner/meeting and I begged off, choosing to stay in the room and take a good nap. Bud returned from the meeting with my dinner, and we all got a good night’s rest.

On Sunday morning we had two runs before scoring would determine the dogs moving forward to the semi-finals. This was our last chance to do well and make some progress. We had a Standard run and Weakest Link.

Again our gate sheets had Hazard smack dab in the center, so both of her runs were close together. Her standard run had a weave entry straight off the a-frame and that missed entry was Hazard’s only performance fault for the 3 days.

We did okay in Weakest Link though the judge’s briefing introduced some rules we were unfamiliar with. Everyone coped with the change, though, and Hazard’s performance included lots of excited barking.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Hazard, as well as all three of our students’ dogs (Elmer and Quigley the Beagles, and Baxter the Min Pin), would play on in the Semi Finals !!

Semi Finals and Final round later ….

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