Wow, wow, wow.
A day like this takes me back to my first couple of days of agility trialing, where I was completely neurotic, overprepared and had no idea what to expect. Waking up earlier than I need to so that I can arrive to a trial 2 hours earlier than necessary, packing way more than I need to so I don't stress about running out of treats, wondering how my dog is going to do in the ring.
Wait, let me expand upon that. Wondering how my dog, my Novice A to MX/MXJ dog is going to do in the ring surrounded by literally hundreds of people at what may be the biggest trial of her life.
The Days Before
Hype was building around this event. Though trials like the AKC Nationals and AKC Invitationals actually require more than just a pair of Masters' titles to get in to, the Westminster Masters Agility Championship gets tons of press coverage from location and name recognition alone. News articles were coming out all over the country, agility demos were being given on live TV, and this girl was wondering how a dog that used to be afraid to walk around the block was going to deal with the crowds, noise, and excitement of such a highly publicized trial.
We got a little publicity of our own; our local newspaper featured us in an absolutely awesome story on Friday about our participation, complete with pictures and video. I absolutely loved how they emphasized Marge's beginnings and my attitude about her performance at the show. After getting her growls out early (I mean, she HAS to keep me a little bit humble and growl at the reporter, obviously!), Marge was a total ham during her photo shoot. We didn't have any agility equipment to use, so I set up a pair of cones and had her "jump" through them.
I got to deliver the newspaper to my customers on Friday with my dog's face printed across the front page. AWESOME. Definitely the highlight of my paper girl career.
The Morning Of
My clock was set for 4:30 AM. I awoke at 4:09 and decided that trying to fall asleep again was useless. I tried my hardest to not bring things I didn't really need as I envisioned the massive pile of bags splayed across my living room floor 5 years ago at my first show. Treats, water, and crate/bedding in tow, we were off to Manhattan.
Unloading was fairly simple; part of the reason I wanted to arrive early was to keep things as low stress as possible. We went in, checked in, got my complimentary Pro Plan T-Shirt and goodie bag and set off for the restricted crating area.
There was plenty of crating space behind the scenes, in a less accessible area of the trial site. There was SO much room that we were in our own row of benches at one point. I didn't want Marge to be completely alone, so I moved her to a row nearby where some other local exhibitors had set up. Absolutely no one bothered us there all day.
She settled right in on her brand new crate pad.
We then tackled the next problem.. pottying! The show had a policy that all dogs needed to show a release form each time they entered and exited the building. To discourage people from leaving, they set up exercise pens with pine shavings for dogs to potty in.
I wasn't so sure about taking Marge out in to the Manhattan streets to begin with, so I give their setup a try. I may be the only person in the history of Westminster to take a picture of my dog with a puddle of pee, but here it is.
Oh, you want me to pee here? No problem.
Off to a good start.
First Run - Jumpers with Weaves
Our first run of the day was Jumpers with Weaves.
When I saw the course on paper, I was a little nervous. Once I walked it, I thought it was super flowy.
It started out with a jump to a curved tunnel. Actually, in my case, it started out with a jump to a tunnel-peek-a-boo-tunnel.