Monday, August 19, 2013

Regionals Take 2

I know, I know! Blog fail. 

But really, this is supposed to be an agility blog and there has been very little by way of agility this summer.

The Dog. I don't know exactly what's wrong. Neither do the vets. Intermittent lameness, soreness, tightness. It makes showing hard and training impossible.  THAT in turn makes showing interesting!

So given the past few months, I wasn't looking forward to the Regional with much excitement. Mostly worrying that she would be ok, stress over not letting down my team- but she'd had a great weekend two weeks ago and seemed to be feeling good. 

However, upon arrival... Bars, bars, bars. The Dog might knock one or two a weekend, not four in a run. Checked her out and found tell-tale heat on her back AGAIN. Off to the massage, Bat Cape on, and four hours rest gave me a much improved Dog later that day. The next morning she was knotted again but less so at least. The good news was that the massages helped a lot, and she was able to play in her classes. And she had a fun time- really! The Dog is an easy read inside the ring and she won't do things that hurt, which I am so thankful for.  She looked terribly wrong to start, but happy as can be once we got her fixed up. Whether it was me watching her instead of working the course, her feeling REALLY good after feeling bad, or the complete lack of training, we had an awful weekend result on paper, but I do love my fluffy girl. Seeing her bounce back and clown around was so cute. She did get her Challenge qualification with her one clean run, and I'm completely ok with quarterfinals. I'll just be grateful to run her without trepidation again and I hope we are on track for that now.  Rehab/conditioning program, here we come! 
As for my Little Pup, she has been on a roll lately! Perfect Pup has been qualifying in everything and most importantly, become a real teammate.  She decided agility is AWESOME and is more than happy to play with me instead of visit and tend to her own agenda.  I no longer feel physically ill over running her and don't even yell at people for looking at her anymore (kidding! sort of...). We even apparently can run OUTSIDE now! Huge strides for both of us! 

So, given that, I decided a few weeks ago that maybe I'd try and qualify her for Cynosports. She'd snagged her GP qualifiers early this year, so just needed Steeple. We had two chances before the qualifying period ended, and she managed to get one plus a security Q.  Then I'd entered her in the Regional mostly for exposure and had no expectations- but out of everything she could have done, she ended up with a Steeple Bye! Shocking. She *almost* had a MCJ Q- one little jump got missed at the end. Super run though; this girl is going to be FUN on those courses.

But she still gets to play in her first national! In the meantime though, The Pup is going to go to weave pole boot camp. She held her marbles pretty well- but her weaves are a low point apparently. She doesn't seem to like them too much (I think it bums her out to slow down and weave and not just GO). I need to help her figure out that weaves can be fast and fun too. Homework is good! 
I'm glad to be home, but I'm glad we went. Fun travels with my travel buddy (though a serious lack of delicious beer made it harder to drink away the long trial days! What the heck MO!?). It can't always be the perfect weekend but some good things came out of it at least.  My sweet Dog WILL be better. The only thing I will be worrying about at Cynosport will be her DW exits! Ha!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Regionals, Take 1

Fact: Trips to Michigan require more recovery time than Vegas Vacations.


Rather, trips to Michigan for Regionals that end up having unholy 14 hour days of agility in a sauna when your foot hurts and then you have to drive home in one shot to make it to work Monday require more recovery time than Vegas Vacations.

Yeah, that makes more sense.
After chewing over the Regional itself for a few days, I'm still not sure what to say.  I've experienced four separate regionals recently; three have been expertly run, enjoyable, large events. Take what you will from that. I intend to send some comments to the club and prefer not to be inflammatory in this space, but if anyone else who attended has any constructive criticism, I urge you to share as well.

I will say, for what we were all dealt this weekend, my dogs were MARVELOUS. 

For starters, my little Pup.  This was her first ever big event, only her second two day trial, second weekend in championship, and first time running more than three classes in a day. Because of the changes, she had to run most of her entered classes on Saturday. Hard courses, games she has never run, new environment... so many things thrown at her in rapid succession over an incredibly long day.

Was it perfect? Heck no. But dang, some brilliance in every run.  She held every start line, stayed on task, made good choices, and had some fun.  Her contacts were spectacular. She did a great job in Team Gamblers and Snookers. Not even a Starters Snookers leg to her name, and we ran a perfect three seven plan- she got her first LAA Q with that one and placed too! Her Jumpers run was fun (for 9pm at night)- I lost her in an off course tunnel, but was actually thrilled to see her run with that much drive. Good thing my teamies were AWESOME and supportive of happy off courses...

Her best moment of the day was a great comeback after I mismanaged her in Standard. I'd felt so bad for my handling and couldn't believe what she gave me following that: the Regional GP Round 1 course was fast and fun and she ran clean, placed 3rd, and made the finals. As for the finals, well, I blame a tasty looking black blob for teasing her while she was trying to weave. Other than that teeny lapse, she lived up to her name. It was a great run. Proud doesn't even begin to describe it.
My little Dog... Sadly, she ended up even more brain fried by Sunday than the Pup. After Steeple Finals, the last class, I just had to hug her. She is not a dog with endless endurance; she has her limits.  Most of what she does in agility is for ME. I am very thankful for every little bit she gives.

To her credit, she held up really well- only in the last two runs did she show her fatigue.  Her contacts were flying (in the good way) and she left every bar up. She placed several times, which at an event this size always gives me an extra bump. Her team of Blade's Hot Dates made the proverbial podium in third- not too shabby at all!  I had a blast with her Saturday, especially in Standard. FUN course. GP Finals was really fun too, even if the outcome wasn't quite what I'd wanted from on the onset. 
So even though there were some low points, they were balanced with highs. Isn't that just like life? In the end, I had brilliant dogs, a great time with my teamies all around,  loved playing with Great Nephew Puppy Boy (I'll work on his moniker), and had a bitchin' time checking out awesome eateries and local brews with my travel mate. Hmmm. The non agility parts were so fun, I reckon I can count this as a vacation!
Moral of the story- roll with the punches. Enjoy the little things. Take a detour. And there is ALWAYS a take 2.  Ours is coming in August!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Still Swingin'



Blink, blink, blink.

"Whaaa... What time is it? What MONTH is it??"

So ends a hibernation hiatus. 
You ever have that moment where you suddenly have what you wanted, after months and months of working to get it, and you're beyond happy- but then you immediately what?

Good question indeed.

Turns out this is a normal part of the goal life cycle but boy, did I ever get stuck in that 'now what' phase.

So I slept on it. All winter.

That was a long winter.
It wasn't all an inability to pick new goals for training and trialing. There was an overall question of life and 'what now' to be examined. This is off-topic, but by way of explanation, after a year of relentless change- some happy, some heartbreaking- life in general needed more consideration and direction. Sometimes you need to step back from everything and assess. Hence agility furlough.
So now what, right? After all this time, what next?

For starters, I'm teaching the dogs how to leap frog each other. We are going to make it to the circus one of these days!

What I mean is, the world is ours. What's next is only limited by my imagination really. And my mind is now open.
I feel, finally, unencumbered by doubt. I have so much. I won't say I have enough- I never want to stop reaching- but just because you can do better doesn't mean what you do now is necessarily bad. 

Even in this tumultuous and unfocused state that we've been living in, I think we three have each strengthened as members of the team. Respite is a gift; for me, perspective. So much. For The Dog, physical rest, well deserved after years of non stop training and trialing. And The Pup gains maturity. For evidence I call on Happiness, Fun, Excitement, Connection- big checks next to each of these measures, presenting as high engagement at our last trial, practice, you name it. And now forward: desire. The feeling creeping in again. I want to do this, I want to succeed at this.

Perspective though. I want to succeed by MY measures. It's nothing without that. It's all for fun, there is literally nothing to lose. Even a loss can be a win. And a win means nothing without the 'A' game to back it up.  You can play to get on base, or you can swing for the fences and bring it all home.  At the end of the day, what will make YOU happiest? I'll keep swinging.

Doubt can stay in the dugout.

Our direction is forward.