Sunday, October 16, 2011

The End :o(

The sad face in the title of this post is meant to express my sadness at 2011 NADAC Championships coming to an end, not a reflection of how I feel about the event. I can't even begin to express how much more AWESOME this year was than my experience in 2009. The reasons are multiple, having to do a great deal with weather (way better this time!), the footing (unimaginably better here!), great friends (we had a HUGE "local" group here and it was so, so, so fun) and more than likely, I'm just a better handler than I was back then.

So here I am at the hotel reflecting on the last four days. What an amazing four days they have been. My dogs are AMAZING. They impressed me in ways I didn't even know were possible. I've had a chance to watch the 3 Pines video once through and I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with my dogs.

Secret. Wow, baby dog! I thought she felt faster down here, but I didn't realize just how fantastic she was moving until I saw it on video. She was hauling! I can't wait to share it here on the blog for everyone. I'm so proud of her. Did she have baby dog moments? Of course, but she always recovered and she tried her very hardest in each and every round. Wow. Seven rounds of awesomeness.

She put in a stellar effort in Round 7 this morning. The course was -- get this -- The finals round from last year!!! Yes, the one I set in my yard a couple of weeks ago. I loved the course and I was stoked.

Secret did just great. She came blazing out of the first turn out of the tunnel like she was on fire! I was concerned about the weaves since she had some issues yesterday, but she nailed them and kept good speed throughout. I thought surely she had another placing run going and then I left her just a little too much to get into place for a front cross on the final sequence. This caused her to come to the side of the jump -- I quickly hustled and told her, "Back" -- Why, I do not know because I haven't trained her for that, but she figured it out and it didn't waste too much time. We finished fast & clean. Unfortunately in the end she was JUST out of the ribbons in 9th place. Had we avoided that bobble it would have been another good placement.

Oh well, the baby dog is still super amazing. Just look how she stacked up in that field of extraordinarily amazing dogs with years of experience beyond her few months of trialing. Words cannot express how proud I am of Secret. She really gave it her all. I believe in a few years she is going to be something pretty special (not that she isn't already!).

Then we have Kaiser. Poor, poor Kaiser. Round 6 last night just destroyed us in the standings. Apparently when you are super fast you can get away with blowing two rounds, but not three. His 30 faults dropped him from the cusp of the finals all the way down to 8th place with not a prayer of recovering. He actually got dead last in that class, which hopefully made the people who said something to me about him being a 12" dog (in with the small dogs) feel better.

I figured we'd just go for it in the last round, have fun and try to get ourselves another pretty blue ribbon. We tried, we really did. The first part of Kaiser's run was just gorgeous. I got him to take the turn out of the tunnel by staying *way* back and then he cruised through the next section. I made the fatal error of standing still as he came out of the next tunnel that required a hard turn -- and as a result he decided the correct thing to do was to keep going straight into the off course tunnel. I should have been running away to get into position for the front cross like I did with the other two, but I was chickening out and opting for "safe" handling and a rear cross.

The good news is that he got his dog walk!! So what is that -- Did he get 5 out of 7 dog walks this week? OMG, how awesome is that?? We are so sticking with the running contacts. Between that and jumping 8" in Skilled, I believe I have found what makes my little man truly happy. He was so, so, so fast this week. My god he is a fun dog to run. He may be quirky, but he has come so far and he only continues to get better.

Even with the off course he managed to pull out 7th place in Round 7. He had the second fastest time, although without the error he would have easily been first place.

We don't mind 7th place, though. Seventh place gets a pretty purple ribbon.

Not only that, but our team run KICKED BUTT today. Oh wow was that ever a ton of fun. I wasn't sure about the third round of Team, as they always play a game named, "Batters Up" and I am not exactly what one would call coordinated.

In short, the game is played like this: Person 1 bats a ball through a large hole in a plywood wall. You get three attempts and if you don't make it you get 20 faults. When you get it (or hit your three tries) Person 1 runs a short course of tunnels with their dog. When Person 1 leashes their dog, Person 2 is released to run the course. Then Person 2 leashes their dog and hands it over, then has to throw a ball to Person 3 on the other side of the hole. Person 3 must catch the ball (otherwise you keep throwing, again for three tries) and once they do, they get their dog and run the course. Time runs until everyone is done.

Robyn got the ball through the hole on the FIRST try! That is not terribly common in this game. lol I managed to not throw like a moron and Chrissy managed to catch it, so we had a really good time. We ended up placing THIRD in Batters Up!

Unfortunately it wasn't enough to get us into the overall Team placements -- They give out three. They didn't post an overall standings yet, but we must have been close, even with our mid-standings placement yesterday. Oh well, it was more fun than I imagined it could be and I think the dogs enjoyed it as well. I would totally do Team again!

Luke would agree! We may as well start there with him since we're on the subject. I believe I explained yesterday that we lost one of our team mates and gained a replacement, so we were out of the overall standings. That wasn't going to stop our team from going for it.

I was NOT going to do the batting portion until it was explained that we were allowed to put our dogs on a down stay with the leash off while we did the batting portion. IF you have a dog that will hold a down stay while you are batting balls all over the place, this could be a HUGE advantage since some people could waste upwards of 5 seconds just going to their dog and getting the leash off.

Because Luke was the only dog on the team capable of doing this (or so I hoped, at least...), it was decided that I would give it a try. I hadn't practiced the batting part AT ALL (since it wasn't my job on Kaiser's team), but I got a chance to give it a few whacks outside before our run and that went fairly well.

Luke, bless him, didn't move a muscle! Even when I hit the first two balls off into Timbuktu. The balls we had were different than the practice balls and I sucked! By some miracle the third ball went through the hole, so I whipped around, dropped the bat and told Luke to run. I tell ya, it really did save a lot of time to have the leash off. Although it took Linda & Lynn a couple of tries to get the catch, our dogs were awesomely fast on the course. I hoped for a placement because they really did do great. And guess what?!

Ha!! They got first place! That is AWESOME. So while we couldn't have a shot at the overall, at least we did our job to upset the standings. lol

I somehow failed to upload any more of Luke's photos from today, and Blogger is a giant pain in the butt on my Netbook, so words will have to suffice.

When the results from Round 6 last night were posted, I was ecstatic to see that Luke placed 6th!! He was actually only 0.01 seconds away from 5th. Crazy, I couldn't believe he'd done so well in such a great, competitive class. With his crazy consistency, it got me wondering where he was in the standings. I had kind of been keeping tabs on Kaiser, but I hate to admit that Luke wasn't even on my radar for Finals. So after seeing that he placed again, I sat down this morning and did the math for his entire class. Much to my surprise, Luke was in 9th place with the top 7 going into the finals. I didn't feel too much pressure, though, as there were almost 20 points between him and 7th. Two people would have to do pretty poorly for him to move up.

Well gosh darn it, we got close. Luke put in an AMAZING run in Round 7. I pushed him hard and boy did he respond. I heard one rub as he turned over the jump before the dog walk, but it was a gorgeous run. I was so proud of him after that run, and the whole arena erupted in cheering. I knew it was good -- but I had no idea it would net him.....


The giant 78 pound, 26"+ Lab/Shepherd managed to get THIRD PLACE in his class of border collies and whatnots. :o) He is awesome. Not only that, but get this. Final standings? Luke moved up to 8th place overall (out of 27) and was only SEVEN points out of being in the finals. Seven points. One error, more or less. Wow. Just wow. I am so proud of him. Six clean rounds, three placements. We have come a long way since 2009!

Not only that, but yesterday was the two year anniversary of when he was diagnosed with Addison's Disease -- just two weeks after returning from Champs. I am proud that he is such a good ambassador for what A-dogs can do.

So that's that. I'm tired, the dogs are tired, but I am just happy beyond words. It has been an amazing week and I couldn't have asked them for any more (well, maybe just one more clean round from Kaiser, lol). I wish I could say, "I can't wait to do this again next year," but it sounds like Champs 2012 will be located way out yonder west. Since I can't justify that trip, I shall wait until it comes closer to home again. Just imagine what a couple more years of experience will do for us!

I wouldn't mind at all if they had it back here in Springfield. It has been one fantastic week.


  1. Wow - Luke came super close! You had an awesome competition. :)

  2. Congrats on a great week. We have made our cut-off for going to champs next year at a 15 hour drive. So, we shall see!

  3. Congratulations on such an awesome experience with your dogs :) I enjoyed watching your runs!