Saturday, August 6, 2011

That's Agility For Ya

Today was one of those agility days where I seriously wonder why I actually do this stuff.  The day ended better than it began, but the whole thing was just so stressful.  I apologize in advance, as this whole thing is just going to be one giant rant.

It started out rough, as, thanks to a faulty alarm clock, I woke up at exactly 6:13 AM, giving me 17 minutes to get to my friend's house.  I ran around the house like a maniac, getting my last bits of things together, which stressed Marge out from the get-go.

Miraculously, thanks to the fact that I packed the night before, I made it to her house by about 6:35 AM.  My speedy performance was a far cry from yesterday, when I hit my snooze butter for 2 straight hours.

The drive was fine.  Marge shared the back seat with Spirit, the Golden Retriever who I walk and sometimes run in agility.  A dog I absolutely adore.

We got to the trial site to find very little parking.  OK, no biggie.  We managed to score the last spot on the blacktop and then took the dogs out to potty.  Unfortunately, there was almost no where to walk them.

When we went inside with our crates and things, we found a crating room that was absolutely packed.  It was only about 7:20 AM and the first run of the day wasn't for more than another half hour, but there was no where for us to go.  People wasted so much space with ex-pens being used for one single dog and inefficient arrangement of crates.  Not only was some of their behavior against the rules, but I also found it extremely inconsiderate.  Seriously?  Do your three border collies all need a separate octagonal ex-pen?  Can any of them be crated or put together to make room for us poor saps looking for a place to put our crate?  And does your Golden really need a 5' by 3' ex-pen when he is curled up in about one-third the space?

Long story short, we did find a place to go.  My friend squeezed herself in somewhere and I, with the help of my other friend, Gloria, found a place as well.  But it set the mood from the start, since the crating room was not only cramped, but not air conditioned, either.

We went down to the rings to check out Excellent Standard.  Some woman with a hunting breed walked past Marge, who was standing directly in front of me and out of the way, and allowed her dog to get up in Marge's face. Well, Marge gave that dog some lip.  The woman continued on her way and said something like, "Oh boy."  Really, lady?  Shorten your God damn leash and then maybe my dog won't feel the need to get upset.  That's in addition to another woman who walked her two giant hounds on the end of a 6' leash without gathering them at all when people passed.  Okay.  Yeah.  Real safe.

Anyway, back to the agility. I didn't like the course from the beginning; it looked deceiving.  I also found out that there were poles in the ring (like support beams or whatever).  Marge has obviously never seen these before, so I expected there to be some issue.

And there was.  The run started off on a sour note, with the dog before us getting whistled and Marge eyeballing the judge like I have never seen her do before.  She was extremely concerned.  I was able to get her head again pretty quickly, but she veered off course after the 4th obstacle.  Then, after a nice A-Frame and table (thank goodness for that, at least), I attempted to rear cross her in to the weaves and that was it.  Full. blown. zoomies.

I got whistled, which I didn't really think was fair since I saw people telling their dogs to lie down in the middle of the course (which is training in the ring), and they didn't get whistled.. never mind the people who do that extremely snail-paced walk, with head down,  dog screaming like a banshee and spinning at their side, back to the beginning of an obstacle after their dog screws it up the first time.  What a time waster.

At that point, I was really upset.  I was unhappy with the trial site, I was unhappy with how tightly packed and testy the environment was.  I was unhappy about the person who told me that my run was "not bad" despite the fact that I got whistled off around obstacle 12 or so and that "she was having fun!"  I'm sorry, but I know my dog, you don't.  Please don't tell me that she was running zoomies because she was filled with so much joy.  She was STRESSED.  I have a STRESSY dog and I don't want to hear about any more of that nonsense about my dog having the time of her life.

Thankfully, I had Amy and Layla to hang out with, which made me feel a lot better.  Layla is such a funny, sweet girl.  It's impossible for her to not bring a smile to your face.  And I always appreciate how Amy is willing to tell me where the bright spots are in my crappier runs without being all like "but it was so WONDERFUL!" Having my other friends around made me feel good, too.  Gloria's kindness in lending me a spot to put my crate helped to overshadow all of the craziness in the crating room, and the fact that my friend Marge (not the 4-legged one) let me hitch along for the drive to the site was something I appreciated immensely as well.

I didn't have to wait very long for my next class.  I was excited and confident for Jumpers, the polar opposite of how I feel during Standard.  I walked the course a couple of times and decided not to overthink it.  I also decided that I didn't wish to stay in the walk-through any longer than I had to, as people seemed pretty nasty there was well.  I bumped in to someone accidentally and she spent the rest of the walk giving me dirty looks!  Seriously?  What is WRONG with some of these people?

We had start line trouble in this run, too, as Marge saw an AmStaff-looking dog walk by behind the start line and thought that he should NOT be there.  Hence why I held her collar for an extra few seconds in the beginning.

The beginning of the run was beautiful, and after getting through what I thought was the hardest part of the course (the front cross to the weaves), I became very excited that we might be qualifying.  However, Marge took a crazy off-course jump - I think just a moment of disconnect - which squashed that idea.  Other than that and a little blip at the tunnel, she ran very nicely, though.  So it was an upgrade over the morning for sure, and I run I was happy with.

After that, Marge, Spirit, Marge and I (gets confusing, doesn't it?) were ready to high-tail it out of there, so after moving Spirit's crate as well as Layla's crate in to our little corner so that we could all be together for tomorrow, we headed home.

Round two coming up shortly.


Diana August 6, 2011 at 7:43 PM  

In general I think trials that are in indoor soccer areas are cramped like that. Usually clubs tell people that the crating is tight and no ex-pens. You may want to send an email to the trial chair and let him/her know about the problem. They may not be aware. Sorry about you day. I hope tomorrow is better.

Sam August 6, 2011 at 7:48 PM  

They did know about the problem. My friend told BOTH trial chairs and it seemed to me that little was done to mitigate the issue.

Usually, the trials around here don't let you bring ex-pens. This was a first time trial at this site, so I guess it was a learning experience for everyone.

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ August 6, 2011 at 9:24 PM  

Some days things just never seem to go right. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. We will be thinking about you and we wish you lots of luck.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara and Little Mr. No Name

Amy / Layla the Malamute August 7, 2011 at 1:02 AM  

Awww thank you! I'm so glad you were there today. I love seeing you and Marge, and your friend Marge is so nice. If you guys weren't there I'd have had a horrible time today.

I'm still aggravated at the crating situation. People just abuse the rules horribly. They should enforce them more strictly, so people will respect them more. I mean, the lady who was next to me who had 3 ex-pens for her 3 dogs was arguing with the woman and refusing to move. So kick her ass out! She signed the entry form which means she acknowledged having read the trial rules.

And don't even get me started on the people controlling their dogs. I'm sick of people pretending that Layla is the instigator. Remember back in May, this Sheltie went after Layla? It slipped his lead and went under her belly? The owner said, "Oh he just thought she was going to take his toy." Then later that weekend he went after her again, this time without a toy. I wanted to say to the woman, "so what's your excuse now?" But I didn't because I figured it wasn't worth it. Anyway, she's here this weekend and guess what? The dog went after Layla a third time. The woman's pretty well known too, so you'd think she'd keep an eye out knowing that this dog obviously has it in for Layla. Ugh!

Hopefully Layla got her zoomies out of her system and Marge got some stress out of her system too. It's amazing how quickly she adjusted. Her second run was almost like she was a totally different dog. Tomorrow (well, today technically) is the day!

Raegan August 7, 2011 at 3:35 PM  

" I was unhappy about the person who told me that my run was "not bad" despite the fact that I got whistled off around obstacle 12 or so and that "she was having fun!" I'm sorry, but I know my dog, you don't. Please don't tell me that she was running zoomies because she was filled with so much joy. She was STRESSED. I have a STRESSY dog and I don't want to hear about any more of that nonsense about my dog having the time of her life."

This is an interesting point. I don't mean to demean your frustration, but I think the "well at least the dog had fun" comment is well meaning, in general. It's easy to congratulate someone after a good run, but what do you say after a run like you had? "You just wasted $20, but there's always next weekend!" "You really shouldn't have run in the first place, you lost the dog before the start line." Not really helpful.

Say nothing? Probably the wisest course of action, it's not like the person doesn't know what went wrong (and often they knew EXACTLY what was going to go wrong).

I don't want to give advice, because it's not my place and I don't have credible experience behind me for it to mean anything. And, I don't know your dog like you know your dog. A stranger's interpretation of your dog's behavior is often way off from what you know intimately. I don't know. It's a tough situation.

andrea August 7, 2011 at 11:08 PM  

hang in there ... looking forward to catching the video :)

andrea August 8, 2011 at 11:03 AM  

do you want to read it? betting you already notice this .. Marge was SURE she knew the path before you started your cross on the jump she missed ... I honestly think she was so shocked she wasn't correct that she felt a little dropped at the tunnel so checked back with you - I suspect the errors were actually the result of her feeling very connected to you and your worries (and hers) so in one way they were actually a good thing - lovely run!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart August 8, 2011 at 11:23 AM  

So sorry to hear this venue and set-up was so stressful.

Kathy Mocharnuk August 8, 2011 at 7:57 PM  

It sounds like a rough day, it is hard when it all starts out on a sour note. We only have outdoor trials so we have not had to deal with that nonsense, although, finding decent places to crate can be really rough, or to park!!! Teh run looked really nice though, Marge looked good!

Never Say Never Greyhounds August 10, 2011 at 7:16 PM  

Wasted crate space drives me crazy!!! It always can be done so much better. Or I hate when folks save way too much space. I hope you have a better time next time.

Louisette August 17, 2011 at 6:36 AM  

Lovely video, my younger golden Cerise love agility, best regard from Belgium

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