What a weekend! Our 48-hour plunge in to the agility world began Saturday morning around 5:40 AM, when I woke up and got the last few things ready for our trip to Dream Park. Marge, knowing exactly why I was up at that time and what we'd be doing that day, whined in anticipation from the time I woke up until the time we got in Louie's car and got on the road.
Marge was all business when we got there an hour and a half later. Forget the fact that we hadn't trialed since November; there was no adjustment period for her. I even set up a crate for her in the crating room for the first time, thanks to Amy, who save me a spot. That didn't bother her either. In fact, I found her sound asleep in her crate on a couple of occasions.
Our first run of the day was Excellent Standard. It was probably the toughest course I've ever seen at a trial, with lots of International-esque wraps and turns. The opening, as well as the sequence in the back after the table, was eating lots of people up. The Q rate was quite low.. less than twenty 20" dogs qualified out of about 100 dogs.
We didn't fare too badly, though Marge completed neither of the obstacles that I really wanted her to complete. My bad handling set her up for a really bad angle to the teeter, hence her not getting on. Then, she appears to read my motion at the table as a cue to go, so didn't complete that obstacle, either.
I chalked most of it up to it being the first run of the first day of the first trial of the year, and although I was slightly concerned about her not getting on the teeter, I didn't freak too badly.
We had a little bit of time between runs, so I wanted to make sure I kept Marge's stress level down and took her for a long walk around the big trial site.
(Yes, that's a Flexi I've got in my hands! Worked wonderfully for getting Marge some exercise around the muddy site. Promising a whole post on that later.)
The Jumpers course was pretty much the gimme-gimme course for the day. It played so well to Marge's strengths that I knew we'd do well on it.
And, we did. We ran the course clean in our typical rear cross style. A Q in the bag for the weekend, I thought.
Marge left the ring at the end of the run. It's not totally unheard of her for to sort of run aimlessly at the end of her run, but it has never cost me a Q because she has never ran off without coming back. In her defense, it looks as though she tries to come back to me once I call out to her, but couldn't figure out how to get back in the ring the way that she exited in the first place. There goes the whistle. Huge heartbreaker.
Someone that I know who was watching us had a really weird comment about the whole thing. Instead of being surprised, asking why I thought it happened, or saying something like "what a bummer," she almost seemed like she was personally insulted that it happened. I'm not sure what that was about. Maybe I'm missing something. Whatever.
I spoke to the judge afterwards and told her how shocked I was that it happened. I've shown under this judge before and am somewhat acquainted with her and generally find her to be a pleasant person. I guess I just wanted to say SOMETHING to her, to make myself feel better, to the effect that although I was 100% in agreement with her ruling, I wanted her to know it was an extreme fluke!
Last, but certainly not least, I got to run Arrow in Jumpers as well. I was seeking redemption for my Q that wasn't a Q and also looking to get Arrow her 9th MXJ leg. Neither happened, but this was definitely my favorite run of the day. Popping out at the weave poles and a bad cross at the end doomed us.
When the agility for the day was over, we did a little bit of this... because how could I deny Marge some time with her best buddy? Adorably enough, she attempted to follow and sniff every single Golden at this trial. At one point, Spirit walked by and I bent down and whispered her name in to Marge's ear... and Marge locked on immediately and wanted to catch up to her. So cute.
Stay tuned for more...