I hope I come back to this post should I ever again consider entering a summer trial at a facility that is not air conditioned. The past few days have been brutally hot, hot, hot and I'm not sure I could ever stomach it again.
As with all AKC agility trials, I entered the July 7th and 8th trial many weeks ago, before I had any idea what the temperature would be like (though you would think that the fact that the trial was in July would have given me some indication of the possibilities!). In the middle of last week, I realized that this trial would coincide with yet another heat wave, with triple digits and excessive heat warnings posted for Swedesboro, NJ, where the trial was located.
I strongly considered not attending the trial, but my host, my good friend who is nice enough to let me stay with her in her RV, had decided to go, after deliberating it herself and speaking to those who went down to the site earlier than we did. They said that the building was warm, but not at all unbearable.
Since I knew we'd have cold air conditioning in the RV (as well as the car air conditioning should anything happen to the RV electric), and since we wouldn't spend a heck of a lot of time in the building, anyway, I decided to make the trip down with her. I decided that if it was too hot on Saturday (the day forecasted to have the worst heat), that I would just skip my runs and stay in the motor home.
We made the trip down Friday night and all was well. We arrived by about 9:30 and hooked up the RV next to my friend's cousin's RV and hung out together for a while before heading to bed.
Saturday morning, we woke up early to get ready for our runs. It was already starting to get hot, but I was hopeful that I'd get my runs in before the worst of the heat set in.
My Standard class was first on Saturday. I liked the course a lot and thought we would do well on it.
We did do very well, but did not qualify. Marge came out with her rocket boosters on during this run, and she leapt the A-Frame contact and took a bar down to prevent us from receiving a qualifying score. I do think that some of whatever she was feeling was stress, but because she did her teeter and table, I wasn't too worried and was still very, very happy with the run.
We returned back to the RV to wait for my next run. I left Marge in the air conditioning to watch my friend run with her Golden, Spirit, and then waited for my Jumpers walk through. I walked the course, watched a few dogs run, and then returned to the RV to get my dog.
However, by the time I got to the RV, my stomach was doing flip-flops. I had my dog leashed, my treats ready, and I was ready to go, but I literally had to take her off her leash, throw her back in the RV, and run to the bathroom. I felt very, very, sick, and don't think I would have been able to run without taking a potty break first.
I returned to fetch my dog and made the lengthy walk to the rings. I figured that I was still OK on time, since I usually get my dog out way too early before a run.
Turns out I was wrong.
"They were hollering for you, Sam," said one fellow competitor. I checked with my friend, who was working the class, and indeed, I had missed my run by about 5 dogs.
They offered to put me in, but another competitor was very angry and thought that she shouldn't be made to wait for a person who wasn't there and wasn't ready. While I would be annoyed, too, she had a HUGE attitude about it, which made me very, very upset.
She was totally unsympathetic to the fact that there could have been - and WAS, though it was unbeknownst to her - a very good reason that I was late for my run. This is when the ugly side of agility shows up - when people are such die-hards and take themselves way too seriously, and forget that this is a hobby. We are parading our dogs over obstacles around a dirt ring in the middle of July, for goodness sake - it is NOT life or death here.
So, after hearing this person get all snarky, I told my friend to scratch me, citing "I don't need to deal with these people's attitudes" as the reason. The snarky woman was well within earshot and I hope she heard me.
"Marge is not running," I told the gate steward. Then, the snarky lady had the nerve to say to me, "Why don't you run? They put you next in the order." I told her no, that I wouldn't be running my dog, and that it was fine.
As I walked away, I thought I heard them call for my dog's name again, so I again stated that my dog would not be running. As it turns out, they were calling for a different dog, and the snarky lady made sure I knew it, shooting nasty glances in my direction as she snidely and slowly pronounced out the other dog's name.
I was very, very unhappy with the exchange, very, very hot from the weather, and very, very uncomfortable from whatever the heck happened to my stomach. I went back to the RV in tears, telling my dog she was a good girl and feeding her the treats she would have received had she run. I texted Louie in an absolute rage, which prompted him to ask me if I wanted him to pick me up. Let me tell you, I was very, very, close to taking his offer, because there was no where I wanted to be more than home.
I get very upset when I am spoken to in such a manner at agility trials and this was no exception. It reminded me of the time recently when I volunteered and got berated by one of the head-honcho agility people for not bringing the score sheets over fast enough. That sort of stuff makes me absolutely livid, and quite honestly, I wanted so badly to go home after missing my run and having someone act that way towards me.
My friend's cousin, who was parked next to us, came over to chat with me and calm me down, telling me to let it roll off my back and reminding me that aside from those who I choose to spend my time with, the majority of these people are NOT my friends, do not want to be, and never will be.
My stomach troubles eased that night, as I played solitaire with my friends and chatted about whacko family members, but worsened the next morning. I spent a disproportionate amount of time in the bathroom before my first run and was afraid I wouldn't be running at all that day.
To make matters worse, I wasn't the only one with tummy troubles. Marge had diarrhea that morning as well. She seemed fine and I figured it was likely just from the heat, so I didn't worry too much about it.
Thankfully, my stomach calmed down enough for me to run my first course of the day, a very fun Jumpers course.
Marge started out a bit slow and then picked up her pace towards the end, qualifying for 6 MACH points and her 11th Master Jumpers leg. I was worried in the beginning as she trotted out of the tunnel (and so was my friend, who was recording!), but Marge appeared to feel fine.