Posted by: allstaragility | May 8, 2012

Room For Improvement

What a fantastic weekend!  My last experience at AKC World Team Tryouts were in 2009.  That was when Skye had a very scary fall off the dogwalk in the first round.  I am still shocked that he didn’t break his neck, and even more that he came back to place 3rd in the next run.  I pulled him from the rest of the competition as he was injured and just doing a good job of hiding it.  That same weekend was also devastating for Bode.  His jumping was already suffering and I don’t think ETS was even officially a “syndrome” yet, but I knew after that weekend he would never be able to handle the 18″ jumps in that environment.   I remember thinking after the first day that I was just ready to go home.  I was done playing the tryouts game for awhile.

Skip ahead to that June when a beautiful little blue girl was born.   While I harbored those dreams I once enjoyed with Skye and knew I would never reach with Bode, I was adamant that it would not be at the forefront of her little existence.  To think that less than 3 years later I would feel ready enough to step into the ring again at Hopkins, MN is nothing less than a miracle!

Goals?  Well yes, but perhaps not what most would think… I almost did not enter tryouts this year.  I passed up the chance to run Solei at AKC Nationals (moving and the new puppy sealed that deal) and I was a little worried about having our confidence shaken right before flying to Belgium for the WAO.  Thus, I entered tryouts with this plan:  It was either going to be a great boost in our teamwork or we were going to get the bugs worked out before our trip.  I was hoping not to be overwhelmed by the level of difficulty (wow- what a difference a few years makes!) and I wanted to see how we would measure up with the competition since I hadn’t really had the opportunity.   Knowing I had one of the youngest dogs at tryouts (another beat us by just a few months), I was also hoping that Solei could keep her composure in that crazy environment alongside the much more seasoned dogs.

The result?  A-Mazing!  I discovered that I really have missed the tryouts experience and it was so fun to go without putting the pressure on myself to win a spot on the team or improve our “resume” to justify being selected.  The courses were challenging, but a pure delight to run!  I couldn’t have asked more from my baby dog.  She was simply brilliant; no bars, never placed a foot wrong, 100% contacts! Our only mistakes were mine; either not trusting her enough or taking something for granted.   Sure, there is a lot of room for improvement.  Our “clean” runs were not our best.  Oh, how I wish we could have been clean in either round 1, 3 or 4 as I think we would have had great placements.  Solei can serpentine with the best of them and it is one of our greatest strengths.  The pieces I saw on those courses were breathtaking.  In round 2, I was in “I just would like 1 clean run at tryouts” mode and in 5 it was a little loosy-goosy after our dogwalk (that I was hell-bent on letting her run).  We were several seconds off of the leaders and I can easily see where we lost time.   Long gone are the days of having a dog that can easily win (or even place!) in a class at tryouts if you are clean.  Sigh, those were the good ‘ole days with Skye I will fondly look back upon!  This level of agility is a completely different beast now!

I had a blast catching up with friends and watching the small and medium dogs, however it was so odd not running with the 18″ class.  I will admit I was a bit relieved not having to run some of their courses (Round 1 for small dogs was a killer!!!).   Overall, the courses were very fitting to the size of the dogs running them.

With each run, my confidence and trust in Solei grew exponentially.  I will venture to say I learned more about our teamwork in those 5 runs than we will in our next 500.  It told me my baby dog is ready to really shine; we just need a little more polishing, but I better have my sunglasses ready!

In less than 1 week, we are fortunate enough to travel to Belgium for the World Agility Open.  I am so glad I took the chance to “stretch our legs” at tryouts and am feeling inspired to throw down our best performances yet!

Oh, and C-ya had her first try-outs experience, although she was very bummed not to get to go into the ring and at least do a few tunnels.  She was sure to tell me how I overlooked that!  Somehow, I have a feeling that she might not be as mature and composed as Solei is at this age, but she will certainly be a lot of fun and probably much more entertaining!


  1. Loved reading your post about tryouts. What a great attitude!! Have fun in Belgium!

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