Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Three Sheeps To The Wind!

Our D.A.M. Team managed to pull off a QUALIFIER for USDAA Nationals in KY in October!! Our Team was made up of 3 Border Collies, Seeker/Tammy, Shiver/Shenna and Rio/Carol. Seeker and Shiver are littermates and Rio is their ‘niece’. It was a lot of fun running a ‘young dog’ team, Seeker/Shiver are still 2 and Rio is still only 1. I will add that they are quickly approaching their 3rd and 2nd birthdays, how time flies!

Well, at least two of the dog/handlers of our 3 dog/handler members appeared to be hitting the bottle, or should have been! At least, that’s our excuse! RIGHT CAROL!!! Carol and I were a little ‘up tight’ on Friday, realizing that our chances for getting that darn Qualifier for TEAM at Nationals were only going to become more difficult to come by. Not all trials offer the DAM Team competition, so you have to look for it. Thankfully Shenna and Shiver CARRIED us!! What are big sisters’s for?? Thanks SHIVER!

You run 5 courses during the day. 4 of them, Jumpers, Snooker, Gamblers, and Standard, are run as ‘individuals’, and your score is added to your “Teams” score. The 5th run of the day is the ‘Relay’, which involves all 3 dog/handler team members and a baton. See the course below. You can pick which section you want to run, or you can do like we did and ‘elect’ Shenna and Shiver to run the ending, which we felt was the most difficult!

The games are not played by ‘normal’ game rules either! SURPRISE! I think USDAA just likes to watch ‘newbies’ heads spin!!

The Jumpers course has weave poles in it, and in the ‘classes’ it does not. You can get refusals (5 second faults and dropped bars are 5 second faults), you do NOT want an off course as you get a big ZERO!! Carol’s advise, let Seeker drop EVERY BAR, but do NOT go OFF COURSE! Thankfully, all the bars stayed UP!

Gamblers, doesn’t involve a line, but rather consists of your opening accumulation time, followed by a buzzer and then a sequence you need to complete in a specified time. You can ‘abort’ early and keep your points from the ‘gamble’ or you can try to finish it. If you get greedy, (CAROL!!!), you can lose all your gamble points, but get to keep your points you’ve earned in the accumulation period.

Snooker, didn’t have different rules. Thank goodness something was the same! Seeker loved this course as he got to do the teeter 4 times!! Seeker and Rio did a good job, but I think Shiver ACED this one!

Standard, was the same as the classes, minus the table. I guess that makes it ‘Grand Prix’? Well, kind of, you don’t get the Qualifier credit for a clean run. In general, same rules apply as in Jumpers, (refusals/bars/contacts = 5 second faults), and an off course = ZERO!!

Team Relay, the same rules apply. Time and Refusal faults, an off course equals DEATH! No pressure there!

I’m so thankful to have Carol and Shenna as my teammates. They know what to expect and can advise me what to do and what NOT to do. Okay, mostly it was what NOT to do! I suppose it depends on how you look at it, they would tell me to; “Do anything you want, but DON’T GO OFF COURSE!” While Snooker and Gamblers are important, Jumpers, Standard and Relay are the games that can give you the ZERO! It’s hard to recover from that.

By the time we’d run Jumpers, Gamblers, Snooker and Standard, we were in the middle of the 14 Team pack. We really needed a clean run in Relay! We GOT IT!!!

So, how is your Qualifier determined? USDAA was obviously created by someone that had a PHD in Mathematics! Remember growing up how they’d tell you in math class that you would NEED this stuff someday! They were RIGHT!! Each dog starts off with 100 points, 300 for the Team and you only go DOWN from there! G

“A qualifying score shall be awarded to competitors who compete in all five classes and whose team scores are within 25% of the average of the total points earned by the top three teams after the fifth and final class.”

What the above ‘really’ means is that you need the first three teams to ‘not be so good!’ The fewer points they earn, equals the fewer points YOU need to earn.

We ended up in 5th place overall and we got IN!! YIPPEE!!

We’ll play again the end of May, but Carol and I will be MUCH CALMER! WE PROMISE!!!

On another positive note, Seeker earned his AAD (advanced agility dog, or as Aunt Shenna calls it, Awesome Agility Dog) title and moves into the Master Level Classes for the remainder of his career!

We also got to see Seeker’s baby brother and sister, Time and Flurry. Time is your picture perfect beautiful BC. Black and White with very traditional markings, and the darkest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. His new family picked him up Saturday night to head over to WI to join his litter brother Sprint.

Also present was Seeker’s nephew, Sequel. AKA – Seeker’s Son. The markings are just too funny, so very much alike. It appears that Sequel’s ears will stay down and his eyes are very blue! So, if you know them you’ll be able to tell it’s not the same dog, otherwise….good luck!

The site was in St Cloud, MN at the VA Hospital and Behavior Health Facility. It is GORGEOUS!! Between classes we took the dogs on some walks and never scratched the surface of the land it covers. Below are some pictures of a few of the paths we walked.


  1. you guys were brilliant!! looks like a gorgeous place to have a trial!

  2. What fun - St. Cloud is a nice town - not too big. Love the music and really like Seeker's look-a-like. JL! Congrats!

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