This weekend was fun. Quite fun really. We headed out for another USDAA trial up at Irwindale at the Santa Fe Dam.* We had just graduated up to Advanced across the board a few weekends ago, and are just starting to dip our toes in the scary waters of Tournament classes. I have asked a lot of people what the rules are for qualifying and how you go to Nationals and all that stuff, but I swear I havent got the same answers twice. Regardless, I will worry about that when and if I have to, for now we’re just enjoying the change up of course styles. Steeplechase is our favorite for now.
Forest was honestly a speed demon—for him anyway—this weekend. All of our runs were mostly fluid and pretty with the exception of a wonky Grand Prix run. He actually had speed and was on a roll and I just wasnt ready for him and we got out of whack.** All of our other runs I was really happy with–both Advanced Standard, Steeplechase + final, and Snooker. We Q’ed in Steeplechase yesterday and Standard and Snooker today. We still have some contacts issues to work out on the Aframe, but I feel like I am ready to focus on that again finally. His contact percentage this weekend was definitely better than it was 2 weeks ago, as were his weave entries.
The two highlights of the weekend though were not during our runs. Firstly, after my Steeplechase final run this AM–which I did not walk as I am a lagger and got to the show site late–one of my agility heroes, whom I have never spoken to before, told me I had a great run. Wow! That was really flattering and surprising for me. This person wins almost everything in the border collie class (aka 22″) and is a brilliant handler. Every time I see him running his dog I stop what I am doing to watch. He uses very little verbal and is so fluid and efficient. That was awesome, especially considering we were not the fastest dog and we were last out of all the finalists! I guess I must have done something right.
The second highlight was later in the day. I had been crating the dogs out of the car as it was cool and I was also being lazy. I recently fixed Forest’s soft crate and he was in it in the car. Phin and I were off working to the north of the rings. I had my back to the parking area when I hear someone yelling “loose dog!” I turn to see what looks like a hairless rat terrier running off in the distance and think to myself, “thats a nice looking little … Wait a second. Jesus H Christ! Fooooorest!!!!”
I’ll be damned if he didnt hear, then see me from a hundred yards away and come bee-lining straight for me right into my arms for the rest of Phin’s cheese. It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was. The dog who ran away from me for years—and who still will in certain circumstances—came straight for me at top speed the second he heard his name. And even bigger is that he busted out of the crate to look for me. Not to chase squirrels or take a joy ride marking the park, but becasue I have finally built value for myself over the last 3 years. So he got lots of cheese and praise from me for having such a wonderful recall, then back into the car into one of the wire crates locked shut. He is such a little bastard, always confounding me and making me happy at the same time.
So, I think that may actually be the last trial for us this year. We have two upcoming seminars that are going to put dents in my wallet and I figure it may just be time for a break anyways. I like to go easy on him, and I think he’s earned some rest. I feel like this weekend was a look into how he will be as a “mature” agility dog. Not the fastest, but consistent and athletic and dependable. I know once we get into Masters I will be humbled, but thats okay. Regardless, I am so very, very happy with my Bun.
*Last time I was there I had a lot less grey hair—as in none—and was probably wearing flannel. It was hot and lots of bands played, but my main memory was being stuck in traffic for like a hundred years trying to get in and/or out of a one entrance park with 10,000 other cars. This weekend wasnt like that at all, hah.
**That also, not surprisingly, was the only run I have video of from the weekend. I am becoming superstitious about having people video me, it never seems to be on the “right” runs. So today when Romi asked me if I wanted her to film me, after about a half-second of deliberation I refused. I am not a superstitious person by rule, but maybe I am becoming one…