I started to title this post, "Not OUR best day" -- But then I realized that's a load of hooey because the dogs were just fine. This train wreck was all on me. Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but it certainly wasn't one of my more shining moments.
What I can take away from this experience is that I really cannot plan back-to-back "up at the crack of dawn" away trials without some sort of a rest day in between to recharge my batteries. I never quite caught up after our fun trip to Think Pawsitive on Monday and had been dragging all week long. I did go to bed at 8 p.m. on Friday, but a combination of the bright shining sun at that time, the fact that my neighbors were outside playing basketball next to my bedroom window and then the storm that blew through at midnight requiring me to get up to close up the house.... Well yeah, I was kind of useless yesterday.
Lake Elmo is not a bad drive -- about 2 1/2 hours. We were on the road at 4:40 a.m. and with a stop for breakfast we pulled into the fairgrounds at 7:10. I threw my tent bag and a couple of crates in the car in case I decided we needed to set up outside the car, but my preference for the day was definitely to work out of the car if we could. I had also brought along my reflect-a-mesh panel to throw over the car if the weather surprised us by being nice -- And good thing I did, because we were WELL over the predicted high of 64 degrees. I'm guessing we were over 80 before the storms rolled in. The car seemed to stay comfortable, especially after I backed it into a shady spot well away from the arena after I was told my dogs were being heathens and charging at passersby...
The day started with Gamblers and Luke was the first dog on the line. For the first time, I actually opted for the same plan for both Luke and Secret, which made my life considerably easier with my limited mental capacity for the day.
We started at the jump next to the finish jump and went for the tunnel under the a-frame. Well, that was the plan -- Luke took the frame and then missed the contact. That meant I could pick up where we left off and we did back to back a-frames (the 5-point obstacle on this course) and then the jump to the left to the tunnel. I think Luke knocked that jump thanks to my poorly timed switch cue. From there it was up the dog walk, then jump, teeter, jump, teeter. We still had some time to kill, so we went forward to the jump and then back into the tunnel under the dog walk.
That's when the buzzer sounded for Luke, so I sent him back into the tunnel to start the gamble. Almost every single dog at the trial spun in front of the jump and nobody was whistled for a refusal. We figure it's because the dogs really weren't "seeing" the jump and thus weren't "refusing" it. Luke was one of these, but thankfully he's super awesome at sending back out. With the added time for Veterans, he finished well under time for this third Gamblers Q. Two more for his first USDAA title!
Secret's plan was exactly the same, only she was a good girl and took the tunnel first like I asked. I was thrilled with her double teeter performance! I think we have finally sent that ship sailing and have generalized that all teeters are a-okay. The buzzer went off before I could get Secret into the tunnel under the dog walk, so I called her to me and we started the gamble. She also spun around before going out to the jump. Unfortunately she spent too much time barking at me, so while she DID go back out and complete the gamble cleanly, the buzzer went off at the second-to-last jump. I guess the good news is that she is getting the challenges at Masters, but silly little things have kept us from Qing so far. We'll get there....
Grand Prix was the second run of the day and it was already starting to get pretty warm and sunny. I was really regretting not packing shorts, but who wears shorts when it's 60 degrees? Stupid weather forecasters...
This run did not make it on video, but it was not my most shining moment. I was late on the front cross before the weaves, causing Secret to go way wide up by the chute (she was moving out nicely on this run and I was not prepared to keep up). I front-crossed on the exit of the a-frame to ensure the correct end of the tunnel. Secret took the chute with more enthusiasm than I've seen from her in quite a while and really sailed nicely down the next line. So much so that I was very far behind where I needed to be for my planned blind cross between the tire and the teeter. I should have forced a front in there, but my feeble brain said, "let's try a rear at the teeter!" Um... No. Refusal.
I did a blind between the tunnel and the next jump then got really lazy and decided to layer the jump between 18 and 19. Because I was giving no support whatsoever, Secret took the layered jump for an E.
Standard was up next. By this point I was starting to feel physically ill from a combination of exhaustion and heat. I'm lucky that the Veteran dogs run first and that it was a small to tall day, so there were something like 15 dogs between Luke and Secret. Pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to handle anything less...
Luke didn't make it on video, but he put in a nice solid run. Unfortunately I barely managed to indicate the table after the teeter and he ran far enough past the side of it to earn a refusal. He ended up with a total of 10 faults and I'm not entirely sure where the other 5 came from... I know he got the dog walk and I'm pretty sure he was fine on the a-frame, so I'm going to guess that maybe it was an up contact? Who knows.
I jammed up Secret pretty bad between two and three to force in a front cross. With another forced front cross after three it was no wonder she wasn't trusting me anymore and started to slow down. Her energy level was starting to match mine on this run, which as we already know was pretty bad. That said, we somehow managed to hold it together for a Q -- which is a small miracle considering she nearly left the weaves on me three times. One of them is obvious in the video, the other two were minor where I could see her eyes/head wandering. I think she was giving up on me at that point.
This was Secret's third P3 Standard Q. That means when she FINALLY gets her first Gamblers Q she will earn her MPD title! That was something I hadn't even realized until I was recording points today...
Standard was followed by pairs. Secret was paired with Taro, the Terv she paired with for her P2 Pairs Q back in September. Once again luck was on our side because Susan (Taro's owner) actually WANTED the second half -- which contained both the weaves and the chute, so of course that worked out well. Secret's half was mostly jumps and the teeter, which apparently she now loves.
Secret started out well until I failed to indicate the jump after the teeter in my rush to push out to the tunnel under the frame. I managed to get her back without an off course, but it was wasted time and it slowed her momentum. Taro broke the tire for another five faults but was clean after that.
Our ten faults put us over the qualifying cut-off, unfortunately. Actually, we were only three and change under time to begin with, so either of our faults would have kept us from qualifying.
It had started to cool off by this point, I'd been drinking a ton of water and the course was shorter -- so thankfully I felt less like dying after this run.
Snooker was next! The good news is that the seven on this course was totally doable for Secret and it didn't include the weaves. The bad news is that this was Secret's fifth run of the day and well, that whole mental absence issue of mine. It had REALLY cooled off by the time we were walking this course. Unfortunately it started to rain right before the class started to run.
It wasn't raining super hard, though, and Secret really didn't seem put off by it. Think about it, though, this is a dog who willingly stays outside to play in the rain by herself at home...
My opening went just as planned. We started with the red on the right, did the 7 combo, front crossed to bring her to the red in the center, back up to the a-frame for the 7, then the left red, followed by the 7 again to the red on top and then hit the 7 for the fourth time. Then I didn't pull hard enough or in any other way indicate a wrap, so Secret went wide and took the red jump on the way to start the close. Totally my fault.
With four sevens in the opening we would have only had to get through three to Q. Alas, we would have had to get through six to SQ and I was pretty certain that the buzzer would go off while she was in the weaves at five, so our quest continues. Some day the stars will align in our favor.
I didn't enter Secret in Jumpers at this trial because it would have been her sixth run of the day. I figured she has her PJM title now (just received in the mail from USDAA, so it's official!), so we can hold off a bit while the other classes catch up.
Luke was entered, though, in our quest to possibly finish out his Veteran Versatility title some day (might have to start entering Snooker for that to happen, though...). By this time it had been raining for about two hours and the ground was starting to get very muddy and slick. I was strongly debating pulling Luke from this run, but the course was pretty flowing and I figured we could take it easy and still make Veteran time easy enough. I planned for pretty much all rear crosses to let Luke choose his own speed and path through the course -- the majority of other entrants opted for the same.
Unfortunately Luke dropped at bar at 3 before going into the tunnel. I felt my feet slip before the 5 jump, so at that point I started to run VERY conservatively. From there on it was a pretty half-assed run. A poorly supported rear cross at 10 caused a refusal and we were clean from there. Thankfully I don't feel like Luke was sliding around nearly as much as I felt I was, so no harm done there.
Surprisingly, I didn't see a single person fall while running this course! I did see a gentleman with mud all up his backside, though, so I'm guessing he must have fallen while running in the other ring. Oh the joys of outdoor trials...
Thankfully we made it home safely around 7:30 p.m. I came home with a pocket full of MAC vouchers after working all day and then trading off some of my other vouchers with some friends. Since I no longer travel for NADAC trials, I just didn't know when I'd ever use the MMBC or Agile Canines vouchers I've been sitting on for so long -- And now I have enough MAC vouchers to pay for our AKC trial in July!
And that's a very good thing because my car did end up needing to have a second wheel bearing replaced this past week, which means we're up to $900 on that bill... Hooray. I will say, though, that we had a very quiet ride on the trip to MN, so I guess it makes a difference. Not only that, but my gas mileage went way up, too!
The other bit of good news is that I checked the mail when we got home yesterday and Kaiser's paycheck from his modeling gigs in April was there! Could not have possibly come at a better time. And since I never did bother to ask what these things pay, I was very happily surprised. :o)