Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Our agility weekend: Could've been better ...

I'm a bit late in posting the account of our Labor Day USDAA agility weekend, partially because I was a bit worn out yesterday and partially because it was a tiny bit depressing. (Oh, and by the way, I didn't get into the Stuart Mah seminar--it filled too quickly! So I won't be reporting on that. maybe it's a good thing because Lucy needed some rest yesterday.) Well, depressing is a strong word--we did end up with three Qs, one of which brought us our Advanced Standard title. And I did have fun--mostly. There were just a few things that made it a less-than-wonderful event for us ... more and a few videos after the jump.
Things started out well enough on Saturday--Lucy was reasonably fast in the morning for our first two Performance Versatility Pairs events (Jumpers and Gamblers--we had small problems on both courses). Then as we were waiting to go into the ring for the third (Standard), something apparently stung Lucy on the foot. I didn't see what it was, but she began licking her foot and wouldn't put it down to walk. It very quickly started swelling up. I didn't have any Benadryl on me so we decided the best thing was just to take her to the vet. They shot her up with Benadryl and some ketoprophen for the pain and sent us on our way. Needless to say, Lucy's agility day was over and she went home with her dad to relax while I went back, thoroughly depressed, to finish my volunteer duties at the trial (it was at my home facilty and I'm a die-hard). The rest of the day I helped out and watched everyone else having lots of fun with their dogs (my PVP partner got to run the pairs even with an unpaired dog) while my little dog snoozed off the Benedryl and (I hoped!) recovered from her sting.

When I got home the swelling in her paw was almost gone and she wasn't favoring it any more, and although she was subdued she seemed to be comfortable and content. On Sunday morning the swelling was gone and she showed no signs of any trouble, but I gave her a Benedryl and a Rimadyl just in case. I figured I'd take her with and walk her around before making a decision whether she should run or not. I had to be at the trial all day regardless because I was the chief builder for one of the rings, and even if Lucy didn't run her favorite thing is to be with me. Her first event wasn't slated to come up until halfway through the day anyway, so I'd be able to observe her throughout the morning before deciding.

She continued to seem fine so I went for it. Our first event was Gamblers, and other than being slow and a little hesitant (understandable considering she was on Benedryl and had a very stressful day the day before!), we did pretty well. We qualified ... although there was a very iffy A-frame contact in there:



She continued being slow the rest of the day ... and then on Monday as well. Usually if we run clean we qualify, but it was a real struggle on Sunday. We qualified in Advanced Standard by a tiny fraction of a second but missed our Masters Jumpers Q by .04. We went a second and a half over time in Steeplechase (but for some arcane reason having to do with the number of dogs in the 12- and 16-inch classes we were allowed to run in the Steeplechase finals on Monday):



Monday morning Lucy had a little pep in her step but she still was slower than normal. I often choose rear crosses because I usually can't make it to a front cross in time, but all day long I flubbed the rear crosses because I had a hard time keeping her ahead of me (Rule number one of rear crosses: the dog has to be in front of you if you want to cross behind it!). She was, however, fast enough in Masters Jumpers to zip off and take an off-course obstacle before I could call her off! In the Steeplechase finals she did something she had never done before: stopped in her tracks partway through the first set of weaves. I couldn't get her going again, so I said "Let's just go have fun!" and took off toward the next obstacle. She got enthusiastic again and we did a nice job on the rest of the course, including the second set of weaves, which she ran like a pro. Then we had had a reasonably nice, but very slow, Standard run (Note the flubbed rear cross after the weaves--I shoul have realized she wouldn't be ahead of me and done a front cross instead):



In the Grand Prix she once again stopped cold in the middle of the weaves--and I honestly have no clue why. After several seconds of trying to get her started again I realized that we had just eaten any time cushion we may have had and weren't likely to Q at that point. So instead of allowing Lucy to get any more de-motivated, I said "let's go!" and ran to the next obstacle. We managed to work up a decent bit of speed and i was feeling great, when Lucy again raced off and took an off-course jump. D'oh! Still, I felt like I had successfully motivated her and that she had some fun.

Our last course was Snooker. I decided that I'd find the quickest path through the opening because otherwise we had no chance of making it timewise. It all went smoothly--but slowly--until we finished the opening. Then in a complete brain meltdown, I led her straight to the #3 obstacle to start the closing ... I completely forgot #2! It was a crappy feeling to end the day with.

But, we'll have another chance for some more fun this weekend at another trial in Youngsville, NC. I've only entered Lucy in Steeplechase and grand Prix, though, because it's going to be Mr. Gomez's big weekend. I've entered him in Performance I Jumpers, Gamblers and Snooker--pretty much everything we could possibly Q in without having to do weaves. (It's very unlikely that a judge will put weaves in a Starters/P1 gamble, and the only time I saw weaves in Starters/P1 Snooker, they were always the #7 obstacle and if you plan your opening right you can Q without getting that one). I'm hoping that next Monday I'll be writing a post about how much fun it all was!

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