Saturday, May 26, 2012

What a day...

 What a day....  What a looooong day.  What a potentially horrendous day.  What a FANTASTIC day.  :o)

 Today was our trip over to New Berlin, WI for the Think Pawsitive USDAA trial.  When I plugged the address into my Garmin last night I was happy to see the trip computed out to about two hours and thirty-five minutes.  That's not bad, so I set my alarm for a half hour later than originally planned -- the super late hour of 3:30 a.m.

I actually did manage to get on the road slightly ahead of my 4:15 departure goal, but then I got about five blocks from home and realized that I had forgotten Secret's Back on Track coat on the couch.  By the time I went back to retrieve it I was now a minute behind schedule -- still pretty good for me at that hour.

We weren't terribly far into our journey when I noticed that the car was pulling to the left.  When did that happen, I wondered?  I figured it was something I'd just failed to notice until then and made a mental note to have the alignment checked when I get the oil changed soon.  Just because I feel like mentioning it here, I checked tire pressure last night like I always do before any trip.

I stopped at the Madison rest stop for a bathroom break and again noted that it just didn't feel like it was turning well as I pulled into our parking spot.  Can't say I noticed anything while we were stopped, but then again I can't say I looked, either.

It wasn't long after we were back on the road that I started to feel some vibration.  Honestly, though, it's not the first time this car has shook -- it quite frequently gets a little shaky right around 65.  It seemed to come and go and it also seemed to get better if I sped up, so I was traveling about 75 or so.  At one point it totally went away and I was only about 12 miles from my exit.  I knew *something* was wrong, but my goal was to limp it along and deal with it at the trial.  Fairly quickly, though, I realized that just wasn't going to be possible.

Honestly, from the sound I thought it was my engine going.  I quickly pulled to the side of the road, which happened to be right on an exit.  I was 9.4 miles from my exit.  I got out of the car and this is what I saw:

 Oh my.  That's my front driver's side tire -- or what was left of it.  The air reeked of burnt rubber.  It was 6:45 a.m.  What do you do??!!

I called my dad.  lol  Silly, but I had to talk to someone I know.  He confirmed the obvious, that I needed to call AAA (yay for asking for a practical birthday present!).

To try to make this shorter, I'll just say that I had the best service ever!  The agent on the phone was great -- very friendly and helpful.  My tow truck driver was unbelievably awesome.  He handled the dogs impressively well.  He towed us to the nearest Tires Plus (within five miles, so towing was covered!) and he was even kind enough to make me take his rain poncho since it was storming outside and I had no protection from the weather.  Seriously an all around great guy.  I sent AAA a message tonight thanking them for all of their help -- I hope they share it with those who helped me.

I got totally hosed on the tire ($130), but I am thankful that everything turned out and that they were able to get me out on the road so quickly.  That alone is probably worth any extra price.  I was back on my way around 9:00 a.m. or so.  The trial started (with Masters Standard) at 8:00.  I figured I would likely miss our first class and I was okay with that.

 I pulled into the trial around 9:20 or so.  When I walked through the doors with my crates I could see that they were walking something in the arena.  I really didn't feel like stressing out about anything (I'd already resigned that I would not be running Standard, which was a bummer because I really want to get out of P1....).  I got my crates set and walked into the arena to check things out before going to grab my next load.  There were still people walking, so I looked at the gate sheets and sure enough there was my name with a big "FLAT TIRE" written next to both of my dogs.  lol  I'd gotten hold of the only person I knew at the trial on Facebook and thankfully she was able to share my predicament with those at the trial.

I told the gate person I was there but not to worry about me.  Everyone was SO NICE at that point.  They insisted that they would "make things work" and told me to go out and walk the course.  Ummm, okay?  I was in my crappy tennis shoes and was basically bra-less for all the support I had (I didn't feel like wearing a "compression" garment for an extra three hours today).  Thank heavens that Starters courses are pretty straightforward and basic.  I walked through it about 1 1/2 times, called it good and ran out for the dogs.  I was able to put my turf shoes on, but that's it.  They ran the 16" dogs first (all two of them) and then I was up with Kaiser immediately followed by Secret.

This is where I get to boast about how awesome my dogs are.  We were up at 3:30 a.m., they were in the car for hours, they had to deal with a strange man, they had to ride alone in the back of the car on a tow truck, they sat in Tires Plus with a thunderstorm going on and then I pulled them out of the car and threw them straight into the ring with NO time to settle, NO warm-up, NO potty break, no nothing.

Well holy bejezus, they both Q'd!  Each of them had the same issue -- bypassing the table and coming back to get on it -- but aside from that they had great runs.  Kaiser had zero jumping issues, he attacked the a-frame without hesitation (the higher a-frame is usually a stress point for him), he stopped on his dog walk and he got his teeter.  The little man rocked it!

I threw him into his crate with a giant handful of chicken and grabbed Secret out of her crate -- no time for treats on the way to the ring or anything.  Secret's stress showed in that she decided she was NOT going to wait at the start line at all and came around the first jump to follow me.  Whoops.  We fixed that quickly and she really put in a lovely run after that.  Her teeter was AWESOME.  No hesitation whatsoever!  Yay!!  She is starting to generalize!

I was so proud of both of them for going through the morning we'd had and managing to hold it together.  I can't help but wonder if part of the reason Kaiser did so well was because I didn't have time to worry about anything.  Grab a dog and run.  Maybe we should do that more often.  ;o)

Gamblers was up next.  By the way, why didn't they start with Gamblers?   I thought everyone started with Gamblers.  Oh well, it worked.  This was our course:

For Kaiser I did weave, weave, jump, a-frame, tunnel, teeter, tire, jump, a-frame and then the buzzer went off when he was in the tunnel.  Oops, not ideal.  He took the teeter on the way over, wasting more time, and then I failed to realize that he went around the outside of the chute as we started the gamble.  I was watching the fabric when suddenly I realized that he was trotting around it, not through it.  Argh.  I sent him back and he blasted down the line -- and FINALLY we got through a gamble without a knocked bar, but the buzzer sounded as he was taking off for the last jump.  Bummer.

I wasn't planning to start at the weaves with Secret since she more or less sucks at weaves at the start.  Why I went that way, then, I do not know.  I threw in a wrap at the jump following the weaves for her to break it up a bit.  When she was in the tunnel I made the spontaneous decision to NOT go for the teeter as planned and instead took her back up the a-frame.  She went through the tire and the buzzer sounded -- how is that for perfect?  We like chutes now, so she made it easily through the gamble.  Yay for another Q!

Pairs was next and Secret was a draw again.  Ever since the run order was posted I was kicking myself about not entering Kaiser because there were three P1 dogs entered.  Turns out I would have had *two* conflicts then, though, since this pair requested to run together.  It was another situation like the last trial -- two friends with two baby dogs who just entered pairs for fun.  Thankfully they were SO NICE and the woman we ended running with was really cool and laid back.  The other P1 dog doesn't know weaves yet, so they both agreed that Sprinter should partner with Secret since half the course contained weaves.

Because Sprinter was the weaver on her run, that meant that Secret would have to run the first half during our turn.  It contained the teeter, but I wasn't terribly concerned since she had done so well in Standard.  She was *slightly* more hesitant on the teeter in our Pairs run, but barely so.  I was thrilled that she still views the baton as a toy and was super charged up for our run.   :o)  Our partner put in a fast & flawless run on her side as well, so unfortunately while she didn't earn a Q in her earlier run, she did help Secret to earn another Q!  Thanks, Sprinter!

 Poor Kaiser had quite the break because he also wasn't entered in Steeplechase/PSJ.  I figured he Q'd last time and with his jumping issues I didn't feel like wasting the money.  I felt bad once we got there that he didn't get to run it, but I don't think he was that put out.  lol

It was at this point where I realized that I don't think I have ever sent Secret through a wonky-shaped tunnel.  She has seen straight tunnels and curved tunnels, but nothing with any sort of an S-shape in her entire life.  Hmm.  Oops.  Because of this she came out of the number two tunnel kind of slow; I'm quite sure it took her by surprise.  I also handled the wrap at number three poorly and she barked at me for it, but she got through there clean.

No problem at the broad jump -- Yay!  Her weaves were slow, though.  I threw in a blind cross between eight and nine and then found myself so far ahead of her at 11/12 that I threw in an impromptu cross between 12 and 13....  Stupid brain.  Thankfully she drove nicely into the tunnel despite the rear cross I had to do there -- and then NEARLY went off course to the jump straight ahead.  She put on the brakes at the last moment and turned to take the correct jump and from there it was pretty straightforward.  She finished clean!

There were only two 22" Performance dogs and she did get second place (by two seconds), but she was about six seconds under the cut-off time for the class, so that's not too bad.  It would help a lot if her weaves were speedier...

Jumpers was our final run of our very long day.  Kaiser was up first and while I got my front cross in between four and five, I failed him on the finish and had to do a rear cross.   Thankfully he didn't have a meltdown over it and made it through the last few jumps without crashing anything.  He did rub a bar, it was either five or eight...  But it stayed up, so it's all good.   :o)  I realized that Kaiser has never been in a wonky tunnel, either....  He came out of the tunnel looking a little bewildered and not knowing where to go.  Maybe I need to start working on that?!  Finally the little guy has a Jumpers Q under his belt!  He's been plagued with one bar in each of our last two runs.

With only two 16" dogs between them, again I had to stuff Kaiser in the crate and grab Secret.  She seemed happy and eager to go, but boy was she slow through the number two tunnel -- I'm pretty certain she didn't trust it anymore following PSJ.  She recovered quickly, at least until the next tunnel.  lol  She came walking out of that one, so I did manage to fit in the front cross with her.  She picked it up and finished nicely well under time, so she got her third and final Q for her very first USDAA title!!  Go Secret, Go!  Let's get the heck out of P1 already so we can play on the fun courses.  lol

We were on the road home by about 4:45.  Aside from a brief severe thunderstorm that we passed through, we thankfully had an uneventful ride home.  Oh, and did I mention that my car no longer lists to the left after having the tire replaced?  Kind of scary to think it was messed up nearly the entire trip this morning....  I'm so thankful we made it through everything okay.  Better than okay, really -- we had a great day!!

Everyone at Think Pawsitive was great, it's a super friendly group of people.  I'm glad I signed up to work because I got to meet several really nice ladies.  I am planning to go back for Saturday of their June trial but haven't decided if I'll take both dogs or just Secret.  Kaiser would make my life so much easier if he would just suck.  lol  It is really so stressful to have both of them running P1, though, and I feel like I'm not doing them any favors to rush them so much.  It might be easier just to hold off with him until Secret is moved up.  We'll see.  I wish I didn't have so much fun running him.

We got home a bit after 7:30 and everyone was so happy to see Luke!  He got to spend the night/day with Grandma & Grandpa.  I know he enjoys his time with them and gets spoiled beyond belief, but it's still nice to have the whole crew back together.  I never did hear if he chased the cows that just moved in....  lol

Oh.  :o(  Not a frame of video.  I figured as much and the camera never came out of the bag.  Honestly, once I was there it never even crossed my mind.  I'm kind of sad that I am completely failing to get their USDAA journey on video.


  1. Holy crap, glad you got through that adventure OK. A shredded tire at that speed could have ended much worse! And what troopers the pups were to be running so well afterward - I think they are more resilient than we usually give them credit for.

    Reminds me of an adventure we had last year - the wife and I and kids were going to present an agility demo about 2 hours away, and we were hauling equipment in our horse trailer. I noticed the trailer felt 'heavy' and eventually stopped to find one of the tires looked like yours. It was really hot, and the wheel was hot too. I managed to get the tire changed on the side of the road and we made it to the event with a little time to spare for setup!

    1. Hey, at least you know how to change a tire. ;o) That was my main reason for wanting the AAA membership -- I'm pretty useless when it comes to anything like that. In this situation we didn't even bother with the spare. It was buried under crates and dogs and I couldn't have driven the 2 1/2 hours home on it anyhow.

      And yes, after it's all said and done I can definitely look back and realize just how lucky I was. I know there have been major accidents from blowouts like mine. Someone was watching out for me!

  2. Wow! What a crazy day. I had a tire issue at Rolex when my pressure light came on. I love having that warning in my car because otherwise I'm really anal about tire pressure. I found the tire that was triggering it and filled it. Nothing happened since then but I gotta say I worry about that tire still. There has to be something off about it. As much as I hate the dorky full size spare that hangs on the back of my car, I am happy that it is there. My first word to my friend as we were airing up my tire was "thank god I have a full size spare". I've never changed a tire. I know the concept. But in any case all I would have had to do was change it and be on my way. I'm sure my next car won't have that unfortunately.

    1. Strangely enough, I have two tires that are a pain about maintaining air pressure and this one was NOT one of them. lol Apparently the air pressure issue on the two tires isn't a tire defect, but something caused by having the aluminum rims (and well, probably the cheap tires). My uncle was explaining to me yesterday that the little lever in my valve stem probably got stuck when I was checking my air pressure Friday night and caused a slow leak -- So in other words, S*@^ happens. ;o)

      Having a full sized spare would rock! I suppose one of these days I should confirm that I actually do have a spare at all. lol Pretty sure the sales guy showed it to me when I bought the car, but good heavens, I don't remember how to get to it. Oops. It's in the floor somewhere. I think.

      I've always been so anal about tire issues. It's why I wanted AAA, because I have *no clue* what I'm doing.

  3. That's quite a day! Glad you arrived safe.

  4. Nice finally meeting you IN PERSON! The runs I saw of your kids were great! They are an awesome group at Think Pawsitive for sure! Congrats!

    1. It was great to finally see your dogs run in person -- Quite the different experience (volume-wise) than watching the videos. lol Lots of fun!