My agility weekend was a success, in that I achieved my goal of keeping Lucy happy and having fun no matter what. We also ended up with a few Qs, although not that one lousy Masters Standard Q that would have given us the MAD title. I know a few people who have been chasing that one for years, so I'm not going to feel too badly because I've only been trying for a few months.
Before I go into the (potentially boring) wrap up of the weekend, I want to mention something else that happened which made me really thankful to agility (and dogsports in general) for introducing me to some of the most wonderful, helpful and supportive friends I've ever had. On my way home from the trial Saturday night, my car died in Wake Forest, NC, 22 miles from home. Fortunately it was in a parking lot (I had stopped to pick up food as my cupboards were bare) and not along the side of the road. I have AAA, so I wasn't worried about the tow, but I really wanted to get the dogs out of the car. A friend once broke down with her dogs in the car, and the only option available to her was to leave the dogs in the car as it rode on the flatbed, but I knew this would be scary and stressful for them. Who could I call? My soon-to-be-ex husband would have helped me, but he was out of town, and the first people I thought of were agility friends. Sure enough, one of them (who hadn't been trialing all day) came right out, loaded dogs, crates and me into her car and drove us all to my house. Then another agility friend said she had plenty of room in her minivan to take us all to the trial with her the next day. I probably could have found a non-agility person willing and able to help me if I'd made enough calls, but I knew my agility friends would be there for me, and they were.
Anyway, our first run on Saturday was Jumpers, and it went like a dream. It was the kind of run I imagine when I'm trying to put myself in the winning mindset. It made me feel like I was capable of competing with the best of the best (don't worry, I won't get too cocky--there were other runs that reminded me of how much work I need to do). I did everything correctly, so of course Lucy followed suit. Plus she was fast--I love Jumpers first thing in the morning. Snooker was OK--we did a great opening but I made a misstep in the closing that sent Lucy off course. Saturday's Gamblers run was my worst of the weekend--I was slightly off in just about everything I did, and I could tell I was just confusing Lucy too much. She slowed down a lot and stayed completely in handler focus, so by the time we got to the gamble I just couldn't send her out far enough.
Then came Standard, and I got snagged by something I didn't see coming: we were in a sand ring, and all the previous dogs had made little troughs around the weaves on their way through. When Lucy hit them, the uneven ground made it hard for her little legs to maintain her pacing and rhythm, so she popped out halfway through. Otherwise the run was sooo nice (except that she didn't lie down quickly enough on the table). But I didn't let that ruin my day, so when Grand Prix came around not only did we manage to Q, but we finished in first place and earned our first-ever "bye" voucher (for those not familiar with USDAA, a bye allows a team to advance directly into the finals at regionals). That alone was worth the entire weekend's entry fees! The last run of the day was Steeplechase, and I was worried about getting Lucy going fast enough when she was probably a little tired. But that turned out to be the wrong problem--it was the weave troughs again! The judge recognized the problem and immediately after our run had the ring crew bring out a rake and smooth the sand, but too late for us. From now on when I run in that ring, I'm going to ask that the sand around the weaves be raked before our run. Because if it hadn't been for that problem costing us so much time I'm positive we would have Q'd.
Sunday morning started with Jumpers again, and again we had an amazing (and really fast!) run. I need to start getting people to video us again, because I'd really love to see that run again any time I need a confidence boost. That Q means we now only need one more Jumpers Q to get our Jumpers Champion title (which I bet we get before we get the MAD). Next up was Snooker, and again we had a good opening but I blew it in the closing. I think I need to pay closer attention to the closing sequence when I'm walking--I spend so much time worrying about making it through the opening that I don't properly see the closing pitfalls. Gamblers was lovely until the gamble, when I sort of flailed about too much and a crucial moment and completely confused Lucy. Then came Standard, and Lucy was running a bit slow--I'm sure she was tired--and then would not lie down on the table. The command I use is "splat," and I said it four times before finally saying "Please splat!" That did the trick. Lucy wants me to be polite ;-) At any rate, we were 10 seconds over time.
I guess I'll try again in two weeks ...