As I've tried to nail down my proposed trial schedule for the coming months, it is becoming very obvious that I have become a weather weenie. Our very out of character and downright strange weather patterns this year don't really help (note Secret trying not to blow away on our walk in today's pictures). It's so very hard to predict what this year will be like and as a result, I find myself taking this into consideration more than usual.
It used to be that outdoor trials were commonplace. If you wanted to do agility, you did it outdoors and you took your chances. Very rarely do trials get canceled on account of weather and you never get your money back if it rains -- so you either run in poor weather (be it hot, cold, snow or rain) or you stay home and forfeit your entries. I've always been in awe of people who can just scratch a whole day or weekend at a trial. I had to pull Luke from the second day of a trial in 2009 due to a recurrent lameness that popped back up and I about cried. Maybe I did.... I think I would throw up if I threw away entries for three dogs.
Because people in the upper midwest appreciate the ability to trial our dogs more than four months of the year, more and more indoor facilities have started to pop up. Before you knew it, trialing indoors became more commonplace than outdoors! We now have agility trials twelve months of the year -- you can pick your organization and trial every single weekend if you are independently wealthy and wish to do that sort of thing (still waiting for my sugar daddy, by the way!). It has gotten to the point where outdoor trials are almost a novelty.
I love how my dogs run outside. We obviously train outdoors on grass at my house, so it is their preferred surface on which to run. I know my dogs run cautiously on synthetic surfaces (like the turf at FDC) and I hate seeing them slip.
So why do I find myself gravitating towards all of the indoor trials at my disposal? Because I am a giant weather weenie, that's why. I love running agility outside when it's 60-70 degrees with clear skies. I'm not so fond of rain, wind or high heat & humidity. I get grouchy when I'm not comfortable and I figure that's not fair to my dogs. And ultimately, when I fork out $200-300 for a day or weekend, I would really prefer that the odds be in my favor for being able to run my dogs to the best of our abilities.
I have to put in my time off requests at the shelter very shortly, so I need to decide for sure what I'm doing. There are several USDAA trials in MN this summer that are outdoors --- I know quite a few people who go to these trials and always enjoy seeing them. My other option, though, is a facility over in New Berlin, WI that hosts indoor trials. Most of the trials for that club fall on weekends before or after the MN trials, so it comes down to picking one or the other. Distance-wise they are almost the same. If anything the WI trials are closer than a few of the MN trials, which makes it an easier decision.
The downside is that I've never been to the facility and it's a complete unknown to me at this point. The people I know that have attended these trials seem to have nothing but good things to say about it, though, so that helps.
I just feel bad that I won't see my MN friends as often. :o( Especially since I'm also cutting back on NADAC. I suppose an argument could be made that this would afford me the opportunity to make new friends. That is never a bad thing.
Ultimately I know the best decision for me -- considering my limited finances and despise for poor weather -- is to stick to the indoor venues whenever possible. But come the first weekend in June, if it is 70 degrees and sunny with a light breeze I know I'll hate myself for missing out on the big MAC trial in Lake Elmo. Argh. I can't tell you how much I envy those who are able to enter trials every weekend and don't have to sit an agonize over such decisions.