We had a great weekend at the flyball tournament. Koira ran really nicely all weekend. Her team came in fourth on Saturday and third on Sunday. Sunday they even gave out ribbons for placements, with 3rd and up getting medals.
The medals had a really cute design after the theme of the weekend "South of the Booder"
Pallo's team did really good the first day, getting 1st place in their division on Saturday. They got fourth on Sunday though, as a lot of our dogs were tired and slowed down a lot.
Of course the placement ribbons were for Sunday, so Pallo came home with a fourth place ribbon.
This was also the first time our club took 3 teams to a tournament. Our third team, which I called passes for, won their division both days, with all of the dogs running really consistent.
Pallo went an entire weekend without once dropping his ball early, so all the hard work on carrying the ball to me has paid off. He is running slower now though, which I think is from having to concentrate on carrying the ball. But, I would rather him be slow and clean than fast with an early drop. Plus, I am pretty sure he will pick up speed again once he gets used to running like this.
While he didn't drop his ball at all, that doesn't mean he ran perfect. On Sunday, there was a lab/shepherd looking dog that he was terrified of. While waiting on deck, his hackles went up and he started barking at the other dog (for no reason I could see). In the ring, he shied away from the other dog majorly. Pallo was running second and the dog he was scared of was third in the other lane, and Pallo was double striding very slowly back to me, as he didn't want to be anywhere near that dog.
Also, Pallo was running last most of the weekend, passing a very enthusiastic, large, fluffy dog who likes to stop and say hi to him as he runs into the jumps. Partway through Sunday, Pallo decided he was sick of having another dog in his face and bailed on the jumps twice. We switched up the lineup, but had another large fluffy dog passing him and he bailed again. Which ended up leaving only start for a few of our lineups, which he has never run before. But, he did pretty good in start most of the day until our last race. He stopped dead when the other start dog's handler started calling her dog (she sounded a lot like me, so we think he thought I was calling him off, I guess my recall is too good). We switched him back in the lineup and he did fine with the fluffy dogs for the rest of the race.
One thing really ticked me off though, and that was some random person deciding to open the barn doors (which had been closed all weekend, and were RIGHT BEHIND the box) in the middle of our race, during the second heat. Pallo stopped dead after grabbing his ball from the box, turned, and took a long look at the doors moving and the sunlight streaming in. Seriously, some people don't think through their actions much, or else just don't care.
For Koira, I have decided to take her training in a new direction. I originally moved on from doing box-specific practice with her because she was getting bored and losing motivation. I wasn't sure she would ever become a competitive flyball dog, and didn't want to frustrate both of us in trying to reach box-turn perfection if she never ended up completing the course.
Now, however, Koira is showing drive. She is motivated and enjoying flyball. But, she is also running fast enough that her poor box turn (which often degenerates to a smash-and-grab by the second race of the day) is putting way too much pressure on her joints. Her shoulders and ankles are being slammed hard, and her hips and knees are taking too much turning pressure. She doesn't have any health issues from it yet, and may not for years to come, but that't not good enough for me now. I know she will do flyball, and that she likes it now. So we will be taking some time off from doing full runs. Box practice and turns are the only thing we will be working on, with the goal of having a fast, smooth, safe box turn. Having a proper box turn will reduce all the pressures on her various joints, speed up her runs, and help her with her bobbling at the box. So that will be our new focus, with making it fun being a high priority. The more fun she thinks the box is, the faster she will run to get there.
So, that's my more long-winded explanation of the tournament. I had a great time, as did the dogs, and really enjoy running with my team. Everyone is reliable, showing up where and when they are supposed to, getting everything done, and generally being fun to hang out with. Its great that even though our team has grown a lot, really fast, we all still are willing to work together and be pleasant and have fun. Really, this is what flyball is about to me. Its not winning (though that is nice), its not getting titles (though, again, enjoyable), but rather having fun and having a team of people who are there, with everyone supporting everyone else. Having that team around you makes every achievement more enjoyable.