Posted by: jility | March 8, 2011

You’re Only as Good as Your Last Run Baby!

The weather report called for clear skies through the weekend with a chance of rain on Monday. The trial in Silverado ran from Friday through Monday and when it rains there, the ground gets, as Sir Cussalot’s late father used to say, slick as snot on a doorknob.

The trial is set in a canyon adjacent to a lake but it also has its very own fishing pond right next to the rally and obedience rings. Every year the girlz beg us to let them swim in the pond but, because of lost fishing hooks, we have to decline their repeated requests.

Oak Park, Silverado, CA

This is the only trial we attend that offers rally, obedience and agility. Last year I decided that I would try to put novice rally titles on our Poodles to earn points for their versatility award from the VIP (Versatility in Poodles) organization. They only give you 1 point for RN titles but every point helps so why not? How hard could it be? You can use a leash even! Last year, I showed MeMe, Josephine and Isabella in Rally and we all Qed both days. Isabella actually finished her RN title because I had put a leg on her a couple of years before at the PCA Regional.

Last year a friend helped me brush up on what the signs meant and we were good to go. After all, how hard could it be? We practiced a couple of times last year and, as long as I was stuffing treats in their faces, life was good. Charisse didn’t get to do rally last year because she was in season so she was a rally virgin this year. Last year MeMe made a fool out of me. Every time we did a circle, MeMe scooted her bottom on the ground as if she had worms. It was pretty funny after the fact but while it was happening, not so much! It seemed like an eternity before those 13 little stations were over!

I came back for more punishment this year just to get that last leg on MeMe and Jose and to put two legs on Charisse. My friend helped me again this year right before the trial and that was it. One practice should do it! After all, how hard could it be?

Now you have to know that I REALLY REALLY HATE rally! I am much too ADHD for rally and find it incredibly boring and tedious. Therefore, I don’t train for it. Besides, I had already done it once or twice before and actually trained once a year ago so I figured no sweat. After all, how hard could it be?

As I waited to go into the ring with each dog, Sir C waited a good distance away with the other two girls. Jose only has eyes for Mel, unless something scares her and then she ONLY wants me. I watched as the dogs before us went from station to station. Evidently, enthusiasm is not rewarded in rally because all of these dogs looked like zombies from Dawn of the Living Dead in search of a sword on which to hurl themselves and end their growing misery.

Josephine was the first dog in. We managed to get around the course but it took constant nagging, pleading and begging on my part to keep her with me and to stop scanning the horizon for Sir C to come galloping in on his white horse and save her from the agony of the moment. Her score was a respectable 95 (not bad for only one practice in a year).

Next in was Charisse. I spend a lot of time doing circle work with her at a walk but I am always shoving treats in her mouth and had never worked her without being a Pez dispenser. The other issue was the large pond next to the rally ring with the agility rings on the other side. Charisse and I walked in, she sat and the judge said go (or whatever it is they say in rally). I released Charisse and she took a mighty leap in the air towards the pond. I called her back and tried to keep her attention on me rather than the pond but she wanted no part of this foolishness. She only wanted to swim. I coaxed, pleaded and encouraged her to stay with me. I made silly noises and pretended to have a treat but she was hell bent to swim. It was humiliating and horrible. All I kept thinking was that perhaps I should have trained more than once! One of the stations was the one – two – three steps backwards. Every time I stepped back and released her to step back at the same time, Charisse Poodle made a enthusiastic leap straight up into the air and boinged all the way through it. Finally, I was incredibly relieved to see the finish sign coming up and was majorly relieved the entire ordeal would soon be over.

In a few seconds, they posted our score. I was afraid to look. Would I be the only dog in the history of rally to fail at the novice level?  81 points! WTF???? Passing  is 70???? WTF???? If we got 81 points, WTF do you have to do wrong to get only 70?

OK, with Charisse done, MeMe was my last victim. She had done it last year even though she butt scooted most of the way so she should do better than Charisse. After all, how hard could it be, RIGHT? We walked into the ring and were released to go forward. MeMe’s nose went right to the ground and she began to do the agility heel as I tried to drag her through the first station exercise. You know that agility heel where the dog runs to the end of the leash and drags the handler like they are in the Iditarod race? She niffed, I pulled. I tried the same tactics I had used on Charisse to no avail. Then we got to the 360 degree turn and the patented MeMe BUTT SCOOCH! As I pivoted, MeMe sat and dragged her little bottom along the ground just as she had done a year earlier. I think MeMe believes that the BUTT SCOOCH is really part of rally. As we approached the finish sign, I prayed to the rally gods that we got enough points to qualify so I would never in my life have to do another rally class with MeMe again.

As I waited for the score, I prayed some more and it went something like this, “OH PLEASE LET MEME PASS SO I NEVER HAVE TO DO RALLY AGAIN WITH HER AS LONG AS I LIVE!” My prayers were answered! EIGHTY FREAKIN TWO!!!!! WTF???? How on any planet is that possible? WE SUCKED THE BIG ONE!

OK, here is what I think it takes to NQ in novice rally.

  1. The dog poops in the ring creating a shitty enough run to cause elimination (multiple puns intended).
  2. Dog pees or pukes in the ring
  3. Dog dies in the ring part way through the course AND handler is not strong enough to drag the dog through the rest of the stations.
  4. Handler croaks in the ring and dog rejoices and chooses not to drag handler through the remaining stations.

The sun rose over the Silverado Canyon and the park began to take on a special glow. It was day 3 of agility and day 2 of rally. Another day, another chance to look like a total fool in rally. Charisse and I ran our jumpers class and had a kick ass run. We beat MeMe and Sir C; an event so rare, it has only happened one other time and that was because MeMe spent the entire run trying to bite him. This time, however, it was a straight forward ass whoopin by Charisse and her crippled handler. We annihilated them by two tenths of a second! Whatever, it felt pretty darn good to finally beat them.

So with agility adrenalin still coursing through my veins, we headed over to the rally ring to see how much longer before we had to do our thing. As we approached the rally ring, still huffin and puffin, I saw they were setting the novice course! CRAP! I had nobody to hold Charisse while I walked the course so I found a familiar agility face and handed her off to him. After walking the course for a few minutes, I reclaimed Charisse Poodle and we practiced a little sans non-stop treats. I made a big deal out of what she did and after a few moves, I rewarded her rather than rewarding every second. At one point, as we were practicing outside the ring, I was so involved that I walked right into the volleyball net! A woman who had befriended me out of pity and had helped me to figure out the signs, pointed and laughed and we discussed my superior athletic ability and awareness of my surroundings.

We were up fast because I had scratched the other two girlz and Charisse seemed to be focusing on me this time rather than the beckoning pond. We entered the ring. The judge said, “Good luck!” I muttered something about needing all the luck I could muster and off we went. WTF???? Where was Charisse and who had trained this dog in the night? She was glued to me the entire time. Her light bulb had lit no thanks to me! She stared lovingly into my eyes as we flew from station to station with a confidence I thought only belonged to us in agility! SHE WAS FREAKING BRILLIANT! We approached the finish sign in course record time and my OH SO happy dog was amazing. PEOPLE CHEERED! REALLY! THEY DID! I couldn’t believe it! Neither could anyone who had seen us go the day before!

We waited eagerly for our score. The other scores were 96, 97 and a 98, I just knew we were going to get 100 points! It felt so good and so right to me!

NINETY-FIVE! WTF???? NO WAY did we deserve a crappy 95! WE ROCKED THAT PLACE!

Then I remembered that rally only wants precise; not happiness or enthusiasm. Oh well, I was ecstatic and Charisse Poodle was too and that is all that counts!

I walked back to agility, relieved that I had done my time in rally and now had a year reprieve before having to do it again to finish Charisse’s title and start on the puppies.

Rally is like childbirth. I will forget how painful it is over the next year and, when the trial rolls around this time next year, I will think to myself, Sure! I’ll do rally! After all, how hard could it be?

Agility was a mixed bag for us. Crushie got hung up on the tape in FAST and dragged it across the first jump in the send causing the bar to come down.

Then, in the Time 2 Beat class, Crushie had an amazing run but got a bum call on her second running A-frame. She had some spectacular runs in standard and jumpers throughout the weekend. 

Sadly, she knocked a bar in her last run on Monday.

11 year old Josephine picked up a couple of double Qs and was on her way to a third double Q but hit a bar over the last jump of the second run. It was a real heartbreaker.

Charisse ran fabulously well all weekend. Her only weak link was me. I had on my new fancy Nike ID shoes that I designed. They are bright red over charcoal and say FTH on the tongue. Those familiar with my Big Race video on our You Tube site will know exactly what that means. In our last run, however, I failed to take that last step on a send down a line so Charisse came off the jump

 MeMe picked up two of the three double Qs she needed for her MACH 4 but, in her final run of the weekend for that MACH, as they were on the fast track to the big ribbon, disaster struck. MeMe came into the table too hot. She tried hard to hold on but, alas, gravity won and she fell off the front of the table. The silence of the crowd was deafening. Moans and groans followed. It was sad.

You are only as good as your last run baby!

With our final runs in the books, we broke down the tent, packed the wheels and Sir C dragged them the ¼ mile through the grass, back to the Global Warmer. I stayed behind to wait for the videos. Normally, we tape our own runs but I wanted a break from taping so we paid 4 Legged Videos to do our runs. They were slammed with people buying videos so I waited almost an hour. Finally they handed me the flash drive so I headed back to the GW.

As I approached the GW, my heart sank. The rain that fell the night before had really soaked the field. Weighing in at about 60,000 pounds, the GW really struggled on the wet grass. She had dug a deep hole from which she could not escape on her own. Some kind agility people had brought wood pieces to place under the wheels but it didn’t help one bit.

When I signed up for an RV spot, I had warned them that we were very heavy and if it rained, bad things would happen. They said not to worry, that lots of big rigs had come and gone from that field with no issues. I mentioned again that we were heavier than most. They put us on a concrete pad but it was not the pad that was the problem but what happened after he drove the GW off the pad.

I walked back over to the trial site where I could get phone reception. My plan was to call a tow truck but I was intercepted by the trial chair (a super nice lady) who informed me that the grounds keeper had a large tractor and he was coming to pull us out of the mud. I was skeptical but walked back to the GW to wait for the tractor.

Finally, I heard the tractor coming down the hill. It was larger than I expected so that was a good thing. They hooked up the chain to the hitch (only rated for 10,000 pounds so it was a little scary) on the back of the GW. The tractor driver made sure he was on the concrete pad so he could get traction. He pulled and pulled but his back tires just spun trying to free the Global Warmer from her muddy captor. I wondered why he didn’t do something so both wheels engaged but figured he knew what he was doing. They tried and tried but the GW wheels just spun on the wood. Smoked billowed up from the tires as they spun on the now blackened and smoking wood.  The chain strained against the enormous weight and the hitch bent upwards which looked very scary. I feared the worst was about to happen and stepped backwards just in case. The tractor driver said in his thick accent, “She Heavy!” Yes she is.

After a while, he repositioned the tractor and did something to make both wheels work. I was about to give up when the GW began to creep backwards. YEAH!!!! Loud cheers rang out from the onlookers as the GW inched her way out of the muddy holes. As soon as she had cleared the deep ruts, they stopped and removed the chain. Sir C climbed back into the GW and took his place at her wheel. He asked her to move backwards but, once again, the wheels spun unproductively on the slick ground.

I suggested that they hook her back up and drag her backwards to the cement pad at the back of the field. Then, Sir C could stomp on the pedal and get up to speed before hitting the wet ground. They agreed, rehooked the chain and dragged the huge beast back to the cement. With the chains removed, Sir C stomped on the pedal and took off like a shot. The GW looked like a drag racer as she FLEW (and I mean FLEW) out of the field to the paved road. The onlookers stood there with jaws dropped as Mario Andretti sped away in his 60,000 pound race car but I could only imagine how much crap had hit the deck as he sped away over the rough ground.

The mess left by the Global Warmer

We had some fun and look forward to next year!


  1. One of my favorites!

  2. Helen – you just made my day. Thanks for that!! You do ROCK sister!!!

  3. I love Meme! She rocks! butt scootin boogie!

  4. You left me hanging, Helen!
    How much crap hit the deck???

  5. Holy guacamole!!!…

    I can’t believe you eat LIMA BEANS!!!!

  6. Helen, I guffawed out loud when I read your rally report!

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