Posted by: allstaragility | November 12, 2011

Words can hardly express…

It was a gamble, it was believing in my dog and trusting in our teamwork, it was about throwing down our very best runs every time,  it was something I dared dream we could achieve, it was… a success!   It was the inaugural US Open Agility Championships in Santa Rosa, CA.

The event was fabulous; very small but quite competitive, especially in our 26″ division.  I actually had a difficult time mentally focusing on the first day as it did not feel like a national-level competition, but had a local trial vibe .   When it came down to Saturday and Sunday and the runs that truly counted for the medals and the World Agility Open team positions, the atmosphere did change and those of us vying for the spots certainly did “up” our games.  Everybody from the organizers and judges to competitors and volunteers worked very hard and made it a special event.

I have never competed in a new area where I have been so warmly welcomed.  From the moment I arrived, people were greeting me with smiles and introducing themselves.  I was invited to the judge’s dinner the first night and had a spectacular time getting to know everybody better.   Certainly, new friendships were made (hooray for Facebook) and it really makes me want to go back at some point and spend more time out there (hopefully it will be warmer and sunnier!).

As friendly as all of the competitors were, I have also never felt quite so much like an outsider.   This wasn’t truly a bad thing, but it was very obvious while walking the courses that I was not within my usual family of handlers!   I think my lead-out-pushes, blind crosses and single-handed serpentine cues where grossly outnumbered by those sticking to the rules of different handling “systems” that aren’t employed much here at home.  At least at big events you see a wider range of handling styles, but this intimate setting made me feel a bit like a rebel and exhibitionist.  All said, I suppose it worked out OK in the end… 🙂

With the competition we had, I knew it was going to come down to having our best runs every time in the ring over the entire course of the weekend.  Consistency has not been a BFF to Solei and I since we are still a relatively young team that is using ring time to train and expand our skills.   I knew we would have to have solid runs to progress into the finals of the US Open (the bye we earned in Oklahoma was for the Master’s Finals) and then continue to run well in the 3 final events.  When I saw the courses for the last day, I had a feeling…  we could do it!

Solei ran like the champion she proved herself to be.  In the finals courses, she took in all the excitement and focused it into giving a 150% effort.   I am completely blown away by the maturity of this little blue girl who has yet to reach 2.5 years of age.  I have never run a dog with the mental and physical fortitude she exhibited through the entire weekend, and especially with all the traveling we have done over the last 12 weeks.

The rest of the year for us will be pretty relaxed, agility-wise, with just 2 USDAA trials in December.  Now it is time for us to reflect on our achievements and think ahead to what we will need to improve upon for next year.  Little Lei-lei has certainly earned her time off.  Not much time off for me, however, as I  will be gearing up for our move to KC next month and can not wait for MECCA to start going up .  2012 is going to be a big year in a lot of ways!


Responses

  1. We loved watching you at the UKI Open. (I worked as a Timer and a Scribe.)
    You used every minute of the walk-thrus, to imagine which approach might be best for your team, and then you walked it. Again and again.
    Your runs were awesome.
    We enjoyed your blind crosses, pushes and one-hand serps.
    Your young dog is wicked-well-trained.
    Having fallen victim to a pinched nerve in my back, I’ve been practicing these (little-used-around-here) maneuvers. I often tell myself Practice!Practice! and Make It FUN!
    Wishing you well,
    Celeste (and Riff)

  2. Aww, thanks for your kind comments, Celeste! Also, thank you for helping make the event go so smoothly- it was a lot of fun!


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