As planned, yesterday we drove over to the Wisconsin State Fair to participate in their first year of hosting a weave pole challenge. It was an 18-pole down & back event, requiring participants to go over a jump to start the time, perform 18 weave poles, enter the tunnel and then come back down the 18 poles before finishing with the jump to stop the time.
What a fun event it was! While this was the first year for the weave pole challenge, the people putting it on have been hosting the dock diving events at the fair for many years and they had everything done very well. The spacing was tight, as I figured it would be due to space limitations, but the dogs didn't have any issues with it. The arena was very securely fenced and I was briefly tempted to give Kizzy a go more for crowd entertainment than anything, but I think the environment would have just been way too super-charged for her.
We left home right around 3:00 as planned. My awesome dad came along and was nice enough to drive both ways for me! The Garmin was forecasting our arrival for before 6 p.m., so we stopped and let the dogs out for a bit at a rest area about halfway over. They'd better not get any ideas in their heads, as I don't usually get them out when we stop. ;o)
We hit some pretty bad rush hour traffic about seven miles out from our exit. Road construction and a car accident slowed us to a crawl for the last mile or so, but thankfully we had plenty of time and didn't need to get too stressed out about it. Except for Kaiser, who always seems to know when we are getting close to our destination and starts crying...
The whole area around the fair grounds was a zoo! The instructions I'd received in the mail were so confusing and it didn't help that none of the people working at the gates had any idea what was going on, so we were being told, "YOU CAN'T BE HERE" when I had a pass in my hand that clearly said I was supposed to be there... It all worked out, though. We unloaded the crates and a few other things pretty near to the new Dog Sports Arena and then set out to try to find our parking lot, which was an event in and of itself -- we couldn't find it (because the sign was behind a tree, come to find out) and ended up turning down a road that wouldn't allow for any left-hand turns, so we had to maze our way through the back streets to find our way back to the main road. Once we did find our parking lot, though, it was a very short walk with the dogs to get them to where they needed to go.
It was LOUD. I didn't know what kind of an effect that would have on them, especially Secret, but everyone did really well with it. They got to settle in their crates a bit and I took Kaiser & Secret out into the arena area to let them get a feel for it. We also got a bit of warm-up time before the competition started. I opted not to do the full down and back with either dog in the warm up. With Secret I just wanted to be sure she would play with me, which she did. After a couple of frisbee catches I went to send her in the tunnel and she recoiled because of all of the people hovering around that corner of the ring. I sent her a second time and she was fine, and then I had her continue and do the line of poles heading home. She got her frisbee after the poles and before the finish jump.
With Kaiser I was only going to do the tunnel and one set of poles, but he decided to get into the poles on his own while we were on the way down to the tunnel, so I let him bounce through those at a nice little lazy pace. Then I revved him up for the tunnel and we raced back down. As planned, I did have the food-stuffable tuggy -- Nobody questioned it. They didn't really question anything (like the fact that none of my dogs are vaccinated against Bordatella).
The competition started right on time. We had a small group considering they would take up to 15 entries -- we only had seven. Secret was third in the line-up and there were two dogs between her and Kaiser. This is where I ended up being very thankful to have my dad along, as he was able to hold the one not running (and video, of course!). Kizzy stayed in her crate during the competition. And screamed quite a bit, but thankfully the place was so loud nobody could really be bothered by her. lol
Secret had been really hyped during our warm-up, but she started to go downhill on me right before her turn in the ring. She seemed preoccupied with one of the border collies and was stressing. She wasn't showing any interest in tugging her frisbee anymore outside of the ring, but she did turn back on once we got into the ring and away from the other dogs.
I am seriously thrilled with Secret's performance at this event. Spoiler alert -- she didn't win anything -- but these were good, fast weaves for Secret! She handled the atmosphere like a rock star, got over the people standing over the tunnel, dealt with the loud noises and booming base music, the chaotic crowds, etc. She was awesome. I am so proud of her.
Kaiser was ready to go! I knew he'd be a hit with the crowd and I was right. You can kind of hear the audible gasp from the crowd on video when he came into the ring. We had so many people come up to ask questions about him between runs and after the event. I was so glad that my new Klee Kai shirt arrived in the mail on Tuesday so that every time someone asked, "What is he?" I could just point at the shirt. The back has the answers to all of the commonly answered questions, so I referred several people to that, too. ;o)
We went straight into round two after everyone had ran. Secret still wasn't showing much interest in her other toys, but she was definitely interested in Kaiser's tuggy with the food inside. I switched her to that for round two and she got to do her "bark for treats" routine before we went into the ring like she always does at trials. I always worry that she runs slower for food, but I made the right choice and she was very happy to have this toy in the ring with her. She did awesome and shaved about two-tenths of a second off her first run. Go Secret!
Kaiser's second run was just as good as his first -- he actually was 0.03 seconds faster on the second run, but how is that for consistency? Some people have said, "Could he have gone any faster?" and I think the answer is yes. I don't think he drives through the tunnel with as much gusto as he perhaps could, but he still did pretty awesome.
There were two border collies there that I know from USDAA trials on that side of the state. They are FAST. However, fast doesn't always mean perfect. One of them had a blunder on their second run, which I knew opened the door for Kaiser. Still, though, it was all so fast and crazy that I hadn't been paying attention and I didn't honestly know what the results were until they started to announce it. I had hoped maybe Secret would get into fourth place, but she just missed it.
When they didn't call Kaiser for third I got pretty excited. He got second place! Hooray! The little squirt won $75, which totally paid for our trip, the entries and possibly a little extra. :o) It's kind of exciting to win actual money in agility.
We hung around for a bit afterwards to talk to people. I brought Kizzy out so that everyone could meet a friendly Klee Kai who would actually enjoy being pet. She was a great ambassador for the breed. They also let me take Secret up onto the dock to see if I could get her into the water this year. We just played on the ramp and did get her stepping into the water to pick up her toy. I think a good ten minutes of work would have gotten her in, but I didn't want to push anything and they were already being very nice by letting me try. I might have to rent some time at Think Pawsitive's pool the next time we go over there.
We hit the road around 8:30 and made it home around 11:20 or so. I was so thankful to have my dad for that drive home; I just don't think I could have done it on my own. It also made the time pass so much faster, which is always nice. I stayed up to edit video last night while the dogs decompressed and settled in, then we all got to sleep in this morning before I went into work.
We're off for a couple of weeks now. I got confirmations that we made it into the Oshkosh AKC trial the 22 & 23 of this month, so I'm looking forward to that. Then it will just be a couple of weeks until the next trial in La Crosse. Lots of home trial opportunities this fall, which is always nice.